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A 

HISTORY OF ASSAM. 




Copied, Zy .4. CXTcvti,., Reve<.J>ep& S. #. 



■ 392 E.. Print., I.— Dec. 05.— 904. 



Lithe, S. I. O , Calcutta,. 



HISTORY OF ASSAM 



BY 



E. A. GAIT, 



OF THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE. 






CALCUTTA : 

THACKER, SPINK & CO, 

1906. 




3>s _ 



This book is dedicated 
to 

SIR CHARLES JAMES LYALL, 

K.C.S.I., C.I.E., M.A., LL.D., 

as a slight token of the Author's regard and of his gratitude for the 

encouragement and assistance which he received 

in connection with the enquiries of which 

this book is the outcome. 



INTRODUCTION. 



ASSAM is in many ways a country of exceptional interest. 
Hemmed in, as India is, by the sea on the south- 
east and south-west, and by the lofty chain of the Himalayas 
on the north, the only routes between it and the rest of 
Asia which are practicable for migration on a large scale, 
lie on its north-west and north-east confines. The so-called 
Aryans, and many later invaders, such as the Greeks, the 
Huns, the Pathans, and the Mughals, entered India from 
the north-west, while from the north-east, through Assam, 
have come successive hordes of immigrants from the great hive 
of the Mongolian race in Western China. Many of these 
immigrants passed on into Bengal, but in that province they 
have, as a rule, become merged in the earlier population. 
Their influence is seen in the modified physical type of 
the present inhabitants, who are classed by Mr. Risley as 
Mongolo-Dravidians, but there are very few who possess the 
distinctive Mongolian physiognomy or who speak Mongolian 
dialects. In Assam, on the other hand, although in the 
plains large sections of the population, like that of Bengal, 
are of mixed origin, there are also numerous tribes who 
are almost pure Mongolians, and the examination of their 
affinities, in respect of physique, language, religion and 
social customs, with other branches of the same family 
forms one of the most interesting lines of enquiry open 
to Ethnologists. 

Their religion indeed has more than a local importance, 
as in it is probably to be found the clue to the strange 



n INTRODUCTION. 

Tantrik developments, both of Hinduism and o£ Buddhism. 
The temple of Kamakhya at Gauhati is one of the most 
sacred shrines of the Sakta Hindus, and the whole country- 
is famed in Hindu traditions as a land of magic and witch- 
craft. The old tribal beliefs are gradually being abandoned ; 
and the way in which Hindu priests established their 
influence over non-Aryan chiefs and gradually drew them 
within their fold is repeatedly exemplified in the pages of 
Assam History. The various methods of conversion 
enumerated by Sir Alfred Lyall and Mr. Risley have all been 
adopted there at one time or another. 

Prior to the advent of the Muhammadans the inhabit- 
ants of other parts of India had no idea of history ; and our 
knowledge of them is limited to what can be laboriously 
pieced together from old inscriptions, the accounts of foreign 
invaders or travellers, and incidental references in religious 
writings. On the other hand, the A horn conquerors of Assam 
had a keen historical sense ; and they have given us a full 
and detailed account of .their rule, which dates from the early 
part of the thirteenth century. 

Another claim to notice is supplied by the circumstance 
that Assam was one of the few countries in India whose 
inhabitants beat back the tide of Mughal conquest and 
maintained their independence in the face of repeated 
attempts to subvert it. Full accounts of these invasions have 
come down, both from Ahom and from Muhammadan sources, 
and are interesting not only in themselves, but also from 
the light which they throw on the old methods of warfare, 
and from the evidence which they afford of how little 
superior arms, numbers and discipline can avail against 
difficulties of communication, inadequate supplies and an 
unhealthy climate, 



INTRODUCTION. iii 

In spite of this there is, probably, no part of India regard- 
ing whose past less is generally known. In the histories of 
India as a whole, Assam is barely mentioned, and only ten 
lines are devoted to its annals in the historical portion of 
Hunter's Indian Empire. The only attempt at a connected 
history in English is the brief account given by Eobinson — 
some 43 pages in all — in his Descriptive Account of Asam, 
published in 1841. Two histories have been published in the 
vernacular, one by Kasinath Tamuli Phukan in 1844, and the 
other by the late Rai Gunabhiram Barua Bahadur in 1884. 
The former deals only with the Ahoms. The latter gives also 
a brief account of other dynasties who formerly ruled in the 
Brahmaputra valley. But both are far from complete, and 
a mass of new material is now available. 

The researches of Blochmann have thrown much light 
on the Muhammadan invasions of Assam, and the late 
Sir James Johnstone compiled from records in the Foreign 
Department of the Government of India a detailed narrative 
of the expedition of Captain Welsh to Assam in 1793 A.D., 
and of the causes which led up to it. "When I was Sub- 
Divisional Officer of Mangaldai, in the Darrang district, 
I caused a translation to be prepared of the Bansabali, or 
family history, of the Darrang Rajas, which contains a great 
deal of information regarding the Koch dynasty, and gave 
an analysis of it in a paper contributed to the Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal. 

In 1894, Sir Charles Lyall, K.C.S.I., who was then 
officiating as Chief Commissioner of Assam, pointed out that 
the time had come for a sustained and systematic endeavour 
to arrest the process of destruction of such historical manu- 
scripts as still survived, and, at his request, I drew up 



iv INTRODUCTION. 

a scheme for the prosecution of historical research in the 
Province. My proposals were accepted by the Chief 
Commissioner and a small grant was made to cover the neces- 
sary expenditure. In the course of the enquiries that ensued 
a rock inscription at Tezpur and five ancient copper-plates 
containing records of land grants by bygone kings, were 
discovered ; and these, with two similar copper-plates already 
known, give a good deal of information concerning the kings 
who reigned in the Brahmaputra valley between the years 
800 and 1150 A.D. In Jaintia five copper-plates were found, 
as well as a number of coins and a historical manuscript. 
Manuscripts relating to the rule of the Baro Bhuiya, the 
Chutiyas and the Kajas of Dimarua were also discovered and 
translated. With the assistance of Indian friends, a careful 
search was made for all references to Assam in ancient Hindu 
writings, such as the Jogini Tantra, the Kaliha Tut an and 
•the Mahabharat, as well as in more recent works, such as the 
Dipika Chand and the religious writings of the followers of 
Sankar Deb. 

But the most important results of the enquiries were in 
connection with the records of Ahom rule. The Ahoms 
were a tribe of Shans who migrated to Assam early in the 
thirteenth century. They were endowed with the historical 
faculty in a very high degree ; and their priests and lead- 
ing families possessed Buranjis, or histories, which were 
periodically brought up to date. They were written on 
oblong strips of bark, and were very carefully preserved and 
handed down from father to son.* The number still in 

* For further particulars see meaning is " a store that teaches 
Appendix D. It may be mentioned the ignorant " (Bu, * ignorant 
here that Buranji is one of the persons," ran, "teach," and ji, 
vevy few Assamese words which are 
derived from the Ahom. The literal 



INTRODUCTION. V 

existence is considerable, and would have been much greater 
but for the fact that, about a century and a half ago, one of 
the chief ministers of State discovered that in one of them 
doubts had been cast upon the purity of his descent, and 
used his influence with the king to cause it to be destroyed 
together with all others which, on examination, were found 
to contain statements reflecting on those in power or their 
near ancestors. 

The more recent of these Buranjis are written in 
Assamese, which was gradually adopted by the Ahoms after 
their conversion to Hinduism, but the earlier ones are in the 
old tribal language, which is similar to that of other Shan 
tribes, and is written in a character derived from the Pali. 
The knowledge of it is now confined to a few old men of the 
Deodkai or priestly caste. When the mass of the Ahoms 
accepted Hinduism, the tribal priests gradually fell into 
disrepute ; and, although they themselves long resisted the 
proselytizing efforts of the Brahmans, they have at last <nven 
way and have now all taken Gosains. The result is that the 
rising generation has been taught Assamese and not Ahom, 
and in a few years the knowledge of the latter language will 
have disappeared altogether. To rescue from oblivion the 
records written in it I selected an educated young Assamese 
Babu Golap Chandra Barua, now a clerk in the office of the 
Deputy Commissioner, Lakhimpur, and gave him a com- 
mittee of five Beodhdis to teach him Ahom and to assist 
him in translating their manuscripts. The work was by 
no means easy; the Beodhdis themselves proved far from 
proficient, and it was nearly three years before all the manu- 
scripts that could be traced were translated. Having no 
knowledge of the Ahom language myself I have had to rely 
entirely on the translations made by this Assamese gentleman, 



vi INTRODUCTION. 

but I have every confidence in the accuracy of his work. 
I tested his knowledge of Ahom in various ways and found 
it satisfactory, and the comparison of one Buranji with another 
has shown that they agree in a way that would be impossible 
if there were serious errors in the translation. I am indebted 
to him not only for the translations, but also for assistance 
in the elucidation of various questions of Ahom nomenclature 
and customs. 

Some of the Buranjis go back to the year 568 A.D. when 
the ancestors of the Ahom kings are said to have descended 
from heaven. The earlier portions are of course unreliable, 
and they contain little beyond lists of names ; and it is not 
until Sukapha became king in 1228 A.D. that they can be 
treated as historical records. From that date, however, they 
are generally very trustworthy. The following is a list of 
the chief Buranjis :— 

Ahom, 

(1) From the earliest times to the end of Ahom rule. 

This is a very complete and valuable record. 

(2) From the earliest times to Mir Jumlah's invasion 

in 1663 A.D. 

(3) From the earliest times to 1695 A.D. 

(4) From the earliest times to 1764 A.D. 

(5) From the earliest times to 1681 A.D. 

(6) From the earliest times to 1810 A.D. 

Assamese. 

(1) From the earliest times to the end of Ahom rule. 

(2) From 1228 to 1660 A.D. 

(3) From 1228 to 1714 A.D. 

(4) From 1497 to 1714 A.D. 

(5) From 1598 to 1766 A.D. Deals very fully with 

the events of Budra Singh's reign. 



iNtRODUCTION. vii 

(6) From 1681 to 1790 A.D. 

(7) From 1790 to 1806 A.D. 

(8) An account of the tribute paid to Mir Jumlah. 

(9) An account of the relations with the Muhammadans 

in the years immediately following Mir Jumlah's 
invasion. 

(10) An account of the Moamarias. 

(11) An account of the political geography of Assam in 

the seventeenth century. 

The historicity of these Buranjis is proved not only by 
the way in which they support each other, but also by the 
confirmation which is afforded by the narratives of Muham- 
madan writers, wherever these are available for comparison. 
Their chronology is further supported by the dates on various 
records which have been collected and collated for the purpose 
of checking it, including those on about 70 Ahom coins, 48 
copper-plates, nine rock, and 28 temple inscriptions and six 
inscriptions on cannon. 

Most of the materials for the present work were collected 
while I was serving in Assam, but I had no leisure at 
that time to devote to their critical examination or to the 
compilation of a continuous narrative. This was done during 
two periods of leave in England. The book has been printed 
since my return to India, at a time when heavy official duties 
have left me but little leisure to devote to the revision of 
the proof sheets, or to the further consideration of the con- 
clusions arrived at. In these circumstances it is inevitable 
that there should be defects in respect both of form and matter. 
For these I can only crave the indulgence of my readers. 

E. A. GAIT. 

DAE JEELING ; 

8th September, 1905. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I.— Pbehistoeio and Tbaditional Rulebs. 

„ II. — Feom the 7th to the 12th Centueies. 

„ III.— Events op 13th to 15th Centueies. 

„ IV.— The Koch Kings. 

„ V. — Rise of the Ahom Kingdom. 

„ VI. — Peeiod op Muhammadan Waes. 

„ VII. — The Climacteeic op Ahom Rule. 

„ VIII. — The Decay and Fall op the Ahom Kingdom. 

„ IX.— The Ahom System op Goveenment. 

„ X.— The Kachabis. 

„ XI.— The Jaintia Kings. 

„ XII.— Manipub. 

„ XIII.— Sylhet. 

„ XIV.— The Buemese Wae. 

„ XV. — Consolidation of Beitish Rule. 

„ xvi.— summaey op oue relations with the hlll 

Teibes. 

„ XVII.— Impoetant Events of Recent Times. 

,, XVIII. - HlSTOEY OP THE TEA INDUSTEY. 



APPENDICES. 

(a) Dates op some Assam Dynasties. 

(b) Ahom System op Cheonology. 

(c) Teanslation of a pee-Ahom Coppee-plate. 

(d) Desceiption of Ahom puthis. 



HISTORY OF ASSAM. 



CHAPTER I. 

PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

Some general considerations. 

The science of history was unknown to the early inhabit- Dearth of 
ants of Assam, and it is not till the Ahom invasion in 1228 A.D. earl y 

records 

that we obtain anything at all approaching a connected account 
of the people and their rulers. For several hundred years 
previously some scattered facts may be gleaned from a few 
ancient inscriptions and from the observations of a Chinese 
traveller. Before that date nothing definite is known, and our 
only information consists of some dubious and fragmentary 
references in the Mahahharat and in the Pnrdns and Tantras. 

The stories culled from the latter sources cannot of course be Indica- 
dignified with the name of history. They are at the best V 01 ? 8 ^ 
ancient traditions, but even this cannot be asserted with cer- from 
tainty, and some of them may have been interpolated by philology 
interested copyists in comparatively recent times. They may, e thno- 
however, contain a substratum of fact, and, in any case, they graphy. 
are fondly remembered by the people. A short account will, 
therefore, be given of some of the better known legends. 

But before dealing with these legends, we may refer briefly 
to some general indications regarding the ancient movements 
of the people which are suggested by philological and ethno- 
graphical considerations. So far as philology is concerned, 
it is of course admitted that language is no real test of race. 

B 



2 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

The A horns have abandoned their tribal dialect in favour of 
Assamese, and the Rabh&s, Kacharis and other tribes are 
following their example. The reason in these cases is partly 
that Assamese is the language of the priests, who are gradually 
bringing these rude tribes within the fold of Hinduism, 
and partly that it is the language of a higher civilization. 
But there is another way in which one form of speech 
may supplant another, viz., by conquest. When one nation 
brings another under subjection, it usually imposes its own 
language on the conquered people. Thus within the last 
hundred years the Shan tribe of Tunings, while held in cap- 
tivity amongst the Singphos, abandoned their native tongue 
and adopted that of their captors. It may safely be assumed 
that one or other, or both, of these processes has always been in 
operation, and that, just as Assamese is now supplanting 
Kachari and other tribal languages, so these in their turn 
displaced those of an earlier generation. There is, however, 
this difference, that whereas now, the caste system, to a great 
extent, preserves a distinct physical type, the earlier philolo- 
gical changes were accompanied by racial fusion. We know 
that this occurred after the A horn invasion of Assam, when 
many Chutiya, Moran and Borahi families were incorporated 
in the Ahom tribal system and, by lapse of time and inter- 
marriage, gradually came to be recognized as genuine 
Ahoms. The Ahoms themselves are Shans, who, according 
to an eminent authority,* are the outcome of an intermingling 
of Mons, Negritos and Chinese. The Koches appear to have 
been originally a Bodo tribe, closely allied to the Meches and 
Kacharis, but many of them now present the physical charac- 
teristics of the Dravidian family. 

The fact therefore that, excluding immigrants during 
historic times, a few communities, like the Kalitas, of reputed 
Aryan descent, and a few others, such as the Doms, of 
obvious Dravidian origin, the bulk of the population of the 

* M. Terrien de la Couperie in The Cradle of the Shan Race by 
his Introduction to Colquhoun's the same author. 
Amongst the Shans. See also 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. S 

Brahmaputra valley is comprised of tribes whose peculiar 
dialects belong to the Bodo family by no means indicates 
racial uniformity. All that it can fairly be held to show is 
that the most recent conquerors, prior to the Ahoms, were 
Bodo-speakers, and that they imposed their language on the 
older inhabitants, whose identity gradually became merged 
in that of their conquerors. 

With these preliminary remarks the general conclusions to 
be drawn from a study of the languages and physical type of 
the people may be briefly set forth. 

The earliest linguistic formation recognizable in India is Dravidian 
the Dravidian. At the present day, languages of this family ^ 
are spoken by the people whom ethnologists call Dravidians, speakers 
and whose physical traits include a long head, large dark eyes, 
a fairly strong beard, a black or nearly black colour, thin 
legs, and a very broad nose, sometimes depressed at the root 
but not so as to make the face look flat. Whether or not this 
race was the one which originally introduced the Dravidian 
languages is uncertain. It is, moreover, impossible to say 
whether the Dravidians by race are genuine autochthones, or 
whether they immigrated at some remote period of the past. 
If they are immigrants, their apparent connection with the 
African negro suggests that they came from Africa, either 
entering the north-west of India by way of Arabia, where 
the subsequent intrusion of a Semitic race has since obliter- 
ated all trace of them, or else coming from the south, in the 
prehistoric time when it is thought that India was connected 
with Madagascar by a land area, known to naturalists as 
Lemuria, which subsequently broke up and sank beneath 
the sea, leaving as its only trace several huge shoals and a 
chain of islands. The one thing that is certain in the midst 
of this uncertainty is that their path did not lie through 
Assam. 

Dravidian languages are now spoken only in the south of 
India and in the uplands of the peninsular system, but the 
Dravidian physical type extends over all but the extreme 
north-west of India, and is found even in the plains of 

B2 



4 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

Assam, though (excluding recent settlers) the strain is here 
much weaker than it is elsewhere. 

The next family of languages is the Munda, which was 
thought by Logan to be a compound of Dravidian and 
Mon-Khmer dialects, but is said by the most recent enquirers 
to be a separate formation, with an unidentified substratum, 
common to it and to the last mentioned linguistic family. 
However that may be, there is no distinct race of men corre- 
sponding to the Munda dialects, and the people who speak 
them cannot be differentiated in respect of their physical type 
from those whose languages are of the Dravidian family. 
There has been complete racial fusion. 
Speakers The Dravidian and Munda linguistic formations were 

ot Indo- followed by the Indo-Chinese. This is associated with the 
languages. Mongolian variety of mankind, whose most noticeable peculi- 
arities are a flat face, high cheek bones, a broad bridgeless 
nose, small eyes with oblique lids, a dark yellow com- 
plexion, lank hair, scanty beards and muscular limbs. The 
people of this type came probably from the great home of the 
Mongolian race in Western China ; they entered India from 
the north-east and, descending the Brahmaputra, spread far 
into Bengal, where they modified the physical characteristics 
of the inhabitants and produced what Mr. Eisley calls the 
Mongolo-Dravidian type; in Assam, except perhaps in the 
Surma Valley, the prevalent type approaches much more nearly 
to the Mongolian than to the Dravidian. 

The Indo-Chinese linguistic family is divided into three 
sub-families of which the most important in Assam are the 
Mon-Khmer and the Tibeto-Burman ; the third or Siamese- 
Chinese, however, includes Shan, of which the language of the 
Ahoms is a dialect. The Mon-Khmer speakers came first, and 
they were followed by successive incursions of tribes speaking 
dialects of the Tibeto-Burman sub-family, who either absorbed, 
and imposed their own forms of speech on, such of the earlier 
inhabitants as survived, or pushed them back into the hills. The 
dialects of this sub-family which are current in Assam belong 
in the main to three groups, viz. : Naga, spoken in, and east of, 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 5 

the Naga hills, Kuki-Chin, spoken in Manipur, Cachar and 
the Lushai hills, and Bodo, which claims practically all the 
surviving non-Aryan languages of the Brahmaputra valley 
and the Garo hills and the principal ones of North Cachar and 
Hill Tippera ; it includes, amongst others, Kachari or Mech, 
Garo, Dimasa, Tippera, Lalung, Rabha and Chutiya. In more 
recent times there have been several intrusions of tribes speak- 
ing Tai or Shan languages, the most notable being that of 
the Ahoms. 

The wide extent and long duration of Bodo domination is Probable 
shown by the frequent occurrence of the prefix di or ti, the f g^ 
Bodo word for water, in the river names of the Brahmaputra dcmina- 
valley and the adjoining country to the west, e.g., Dibru, tlon * 
Dikhu, Dihing, Dihong, Dibong, Disang, Diphang, Dimla, 
etc. In some cases the old name is disappearing — the Dichu 
river, for instance, is now better known as the Jaldhaka— while 
in others it has already gone, as in the case of the Brahma- 
putra, which in the early days of Ahom rule was known as 
the Ti-lao. The latter word was doubtless the origin of another 
old name for this river, viz. : Lohit or Lau-hitya (red). This 
name has another derivation in Sanskrit literature, where the 
water is said to be so called because Parasuram washed 
off his bloody stains in it,* but there are numerous similar 
instances of the invention of such stories to explain names 
taken from the aboriginal languages. The Kosi derives its name 
from Khussi, the Newar word for river, but it is connected 
in Hindu legends with Kusik Raja ; and the Tista, though 
its first syllable is clearly the Bodo di or ti, is regarded by 
the Hindus as a corruption of trishna, "thirst," or trisrota, 
" three springs." The Ahoms ruled in Assam for seven 
hundred years, but their word for river (nam) occurs only 
in a few instances in the extreme east, e.g., Namrup, Namtsik 
and Namsang. They called the Dikhu the Namchau, but the 
earlier Kachari name has survived in spite of them. The 

•Kalika Puran, 84th Adhydya Sanskrit Texts, Vol. I, pp. 458, 
of the Jdmadagnya Upakhydna. See 459). 
also Bhdgavat Furdn (J. M air's 



6 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

Ahoms, of course, were relatively few in numbers, but they 

were the dominant race \ and the fact that, compared with the 

Bodo tribes, they have left so few marks on the topography 

of the country may perhaps be taken to show that the period 

for which the latter were supreme was far longer than that 

for which the Ahoms are known to have ruled. 

Whether the first Mongolian settlers found Dravidians 

already established in Assam or not is a question that cannot now 

be unravelled. Logan thought that there was a Dravidian 

basis to various Bodo and Naga dialects, and, if this were so, 

the answer might be given in the affirmative. But Dr. Grier- 

son, the highest modern authority, does not support his view. 

Speakers Meanwhile the people generally known as Aryans had 

of Aryan appeared in the north-west, and graduallv carried the Hindu 
lansruases. 

' religion and Sanskritic languages right across India. These 

people had a relatively long head, a straight, finely-cut 
nose, a long, rather than a broad, face, a good forehead, 
regular features and a tall, well-proportioned figure. In the 
course of time Aryan and Bodo languages completely 
obliterated those of the earlier Mon- Khmer formation, save 
only in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, where Khasi still 
survives as a genuine member of it. The Bodo dialects, 
though still spoken in Assam by more than half a million 
persons, are in their turn giving way to Aryan languages 
(Assamese and Bengali), and their complete disappearance is 
only a matter of time. 

Although Aryan languages are now predominant in both 
the great river valleys this is due mainly to the influence of 
Hindu priests and to the more advanced character of these 
languages, as compared with the ruder and less efficient tribal 
dialects ; and the strain of " Aryan " blood is very thin. It is, 
however, apparent in some of the higher castes. The Kalitas of 
the Brahmaputra valley, who number nearly a quarter of a 
million, have often a distinctly Aryan appearance, and, 
although they certainly contain other elements, they are possi- 
bly to some extent the descendants of the first Aryan 
immigrants by women of the country. 



Prehistoric and traditional rulers. 7 

The soil of the Brahmaputra valley is fertile, but its Probable 
climate is damp and relaxing, so that, while the people enjoy successive 
great material prosperity, there is a strong tendency towards invasions, 
physical and moral deterioration. Any race that had been 
long resident there, though rising in the scale of civilization 
and gaining proficiency in the arts of peace, would gradually 
become soft and luxurious and so, after a time, would no 
longer be able to defend itself against the incursions of the 
hardier tribes behind them. The latter would then encroach 
in all directions, and would harry the plains with constant 
raids, killing the men and carrying off the women, and reduc- 
ing the country to a condition bordering on anarchy. Then 
would come the opportunity for some enterprising hill chief 
to swoop down with his tribesmen, or a confederacy of kindred 
tribes, and, after sweeping away the effete remains of a worn- 
out nationality, to establish his followers in its place. For a time 
the material resources of the plains would add to his strength, 
and he would be able without much difficulty to consolidate his 
rule and beat back external aggression. But time would bring 
its revenge ; and, in the end, the new dynasty would sink just 
like the one which it had subverted. The history of the Ahoms 
shows how a brave and vigorous race may decay in the sleepy 
hollow of the Brahmaputra valley ; and it was only the inter- 
vention of the British that prevented them from being blotted 
out by fresh hordes of invaders, first the Burmese, and then 
the Singphos and Khamtis, and also, possibly, the Daflas, 
Abors and Bhutias. 

The same was doubtless the case in the Surma valley, 
which must once have been dominated by Bodo tribes, allied 
to the Tipperas on the south and the Garos and Koches on the 
north. At the present day, there are very few traces of a recent 
aboriginal element, but this is due largely to the absorb- 
ent power of Hinduism ; as lately as 1835 Pemberton found 
that members of the Jaintia royal family were able in course 
of time to gain admission to the K ayasth and Baidya castes, 
and if these castes opened their portals to aborigines of high 
social position, other less exalted communities doubtless did 



8 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

the same to those of a humbler origin. The Kaibarttas and 
Chandals, or Namasudras, probably include in their ranks 
large numbers of Bodo proselytes. 

In the hills of the Assam range the changes may have 
been fewer and less violent, but here also there have quite 
recently been movements, such as those of the Kukis, who in 
the last century were pushed northwards by the Lushais, and of 
the Mikirs, who once inhabited the Jaintia hills ; amongst the 
Nagas also there are well-established cases of slow racial drift. 
Some of the tribes, again, that are now found in the hills were 
at one time in occupation of the plains, like the Kacharis, who 
were pushed back into the North Cachar Hills by the Ahoms. 
Apart altogether from external aggression there was a 
Other strong internal tendency towards disintegration. There was 
causes of no strong national spirit or other cohesive element amongst 
gration. ^ ne Mongolian tribes of Assam, and their natural condition 
was probably that of a number of small communities, each 
under its own chief or headman, and independent of its neigh- 
bours ; a state of things, in fact, very similar to that which 
existed at the time of the British conquest amongst the Garos, 
Khasis and Nagas, whose organization in many cases was of 
a distinctly republican type. From time to time a local chief 
of unusual enterprise and ambition, or possibly some Kshatriya 
adventurer, would reduce these petty states and make him- 
self master of the whole country. So long as the central 
administration was young and vigorous, the tribal headmen 
would be held in check, but as soon as it became weak and 
effeminate, as usually happened after a few generations, the 
latter would recover their lost independence, and enjoy it 
until it was again subverted in the manner already described. 
The comparatively short existence of the old Assam 
Slow pro- dynasties explains the slow and intermittent character of the 
gress of progress of Hinduism in past generations. Hindu priests 
in the an( ^ warriors undoubtedly found their way to Assam at a 
past. very early date. The Indian king Samuda who, according 

to Forlong, was ruling in Upper Burma in 105 A.D., must 
have proceeded thither through Assam, and so must the 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 9 

Hindus who led the Tchampas or Shans in their conquest of 
the mouths of the Mekong in 280 A.D.* According to 
Hiuen Tsiang, the chief ruler in Assam in 640 A.D. was a 
Hindu who claimed to be a Kshatriya. And yet, in the 
Brahmaputra valley, a large proportion of the population 
are still outside the pale of Hinduism or in the lower stages 
of conversion, where their adopted religion still sits lightly on 
them and they have not yet learnt to resist the temptation 
to indulge in pork, fowls and other articles regarded by the 
orthodox as impure. The reason seems to be that in early days 
the number of Hindu settlers and adventurers was small, and 
they confined their attention to the king and his chief 
nobles, from whom alone they had anything to gain. They 
would convert them, admit the nobles to Kshatriya rank and 
invent for the king a noble descent, using, as will be seen, 
the same materials over and over again, and then enjoy as 
their reward lucrative posts at court and lands granted to 
them by their proselytes. They would not interfere with 
the tribal religious rites, as to do so would call forth the 
active animosity of the native priests, nor would they trouble 
about the beliefs of the common people, who would continue 
to hold to their old religious notions. If the dynasty lasted 
long enough, the influence of Hindu ideas would gradually 
filter down to them and they would follow the example of 
their betters, as has now actually happened in the case of the 
Ahoms. But before this could come to pass, the dynasty 
would ordinarily be overthrown; the down-fallen survivors 
of the old aristocracy would become merged in some Hindu 
caste, t such as the Kalita, and Hinduism would sink into 
insignificance until, in course of time, its priests should suc- 
ceed in inducing the new rulers to accept their ministrations. 

* Phayre, History of Burma, The Khens, who ruled in the 

pages 3, 4 and 15. north-west of Assam before the 

t The disappearance of former Koches, have also for the most part 

ruling races is one of the most been absorbed in other castes. In 

curious phenomena in Indian Upper India there is now no visible 

history. There is no vestige now trace of the Greeks,Huns, Bhars and 

of the old Bodo rulers of Sylhet. other once dominant races or tribes. 



10 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 



The Mythological Period. 

In the Hindu epics and in Pauranik and Tantrik litera- 
ancient ^ ure there are numerous references to ancient Assam. Con- 
Kama- stant mention is made of a great kingdom called Kamarupa* 
ru P a - which lay in the north-east of India. Its extent varied from 
time to time. When the stories relating to it were inserted 
in the Mahabharat, it stretched southwards as far as the 
Bay of Bengal and its eastern boundary was the Karatoya. 
This was then a river of the first order, and united in its bed 
the streams which now go to form the Tista, the Kosi and 
the Mahananda. It was held sacred, ranking almost as high 
as the Ganges, and its tutelary deity, a mermaid goddess 
named Kausika, was worshipped all over the Matsya Desh, 
or the tract between it and the old bed of the Brahmaputra, 
which formerly flowed past the town of Mymensingh. In 
the Kalika Puran it is said that the temple of Kamakhya 
near Gauhati was in the centre of Kamarupa, and in the 
Vishnu Puran it is added that the country extended around 
this temple in all directions for 100 yojanas, or about 450 
miles. Allowing for exaggeration, this may be held to 
embrace the whole of the new province of Eastern Bengal 
and Assam and also Bhutan. In the Jogini Tantra> which is 
probably a later work, Kamarupa is said to include the tract 
lying between the Karatoya river on the west and the 
Dikrang on the east, the mountains of Kanchana and 
Girikanyaka on the north, and the confluence of the 
Brahmaputra and Lakshmi rivers on the south ; that is to 
say, it included roughly, the Brahmaputra valley, Bhutan, 
Kangpur and Koch Bihar. 

According to the same work the country was divided 
into four portions, viz., Kampith from the Karatoya to the 
Sankosh, Ratnapith from the Sankosh to the Rupahi, 

* I have retained the Sanskrit of the same name which oocupies 
spelling to distinguish the ancient only a small part of it. 
kingdom from the modern district 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 11 

Suvarnapith from the Rupahi to the Bharali, and Saumarpith 
from the Bharali to the Dikrang. Elsewhere Ratnapith is said 
to include the tract between the Karatoya and the Monas, 
Kampith that between the Monas and Silghat on the north 
bank of the Brahmaputra, and Bhadrapith, the correspond- 
ing portion of the south bank, while Saumarpith, aft before, 
is the most easterly tract. 

The origin of the name Kamarupa is mythologically Origin of 
explained as follows : — * When Sati died of vexation at the the name, 
discourtesy shown to her husband Siva by her father Daksha, 
Siva, overcome by grief, wandered about the world carrying 
her dead body on his head. In order to put a stop to his 
penance, Vishnu followed him and lopped away the body 
piecemeal with his discus. It fell to earth in fifty-one 
different pieces, and wherever each piece fell, the ground 
was held to be sacred. Her organs of generation fell on 
Kamagiri, i.e., the Nilachal hill near Gauhati, and the place 
was thenceforth held sacred to Kamakhya, the Goddess of 
sexual desire.f As Siva still continued to do penance, the 
other Gods became afraid that he would thereby acquire 
universal power, and accordingly despatched Kamdeb, the 
Indian Cupid, to make him fall in love again, and thereby 
break his penance ; he succeeded in his mission, but so 
enraged was Siva at the result, that he burnt him to ashes by 
a fiery glance from the eye in the centre of his forehead. 
Kamdeb eventually recovered his original form and the 
country where this took place became known as Kamarupa. 

The earliest mentioned king of Kamarupa was named Legen- 
Mahirang Danab who was succeeded in turn, in the direct jj^ , 
line, by Hatak Asur, Sambar Asur and Ratna Asur. No Kama- 
details are given regarding these rulers but the appellations ru P a - 
Danab and Asur suggest that they were not Hindus. 

After them there was a chief named Ghatak, the ruler of 
the Kirats, who are said to have been a powerful race, much 

* The germ of the story is to he t Another piece, the left thigh, ia 

found in the preface to the Gopatha said to have fallen at Faljur in the 

Brahmana published in Nos. 215- Jaintia Parganas. 
252 of the Bibl. Ind. pp. 30-35. 



12 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

addicted to meat and strong drinks.* In the chronicles of 
the Tippera kings it is said that the ancient name of their 
country was Kirata, and the word still survives as the designa- 
tion of a tract in the Sub- Himalaya, between the Dud Kosi 
and Arun rivers, and of the Khambu, Limbu and Yakha 
tribes who inhabit it. In Sanskrit literature the term seems 
to have been used indiscriminately to designate any border 
tribe of the northern and eastern frontier. 
Narak Ghatak, it is said, was defeated and slain by Narak 

ur * Asur, who is the hero of various stories told in the Purans 
and Tantras.f According to these legends he was born of 
the earth by Vishnu, and was brought up by Janak, the 
king of Videha or North Bihar. He made Pragjyotishpur 
(the modern Gauhati) his capital, and settled numerous 
Brahmans at Kamakhya. There is a hill near Gauhati which 
is still known as the hill of Narak Asur. His rule extended 
from the Karatoya on the west, to the Dikrang on the east. 
He married Maya, the daughter of the king of Vidarbha, 
and was greatly favoured by Vishnu, who taught him to 
worship the goddess Kamakhya. At first he was pious and 
prospered, but afterwards he came under the influence of Ban 
Asur, king of Sonitpur, and grew irreligious and presump- 
tuous. He asked Kamakhya to take him as her husband, and 
she assented, on condition that he erected a temple to her on 
Nilachal and also constructed a tank and a road to the temple 
in a single night. He had almost accomplished this task, when 
the Goddess caused a cock to crow before dawn and, claiming 
this as a proof that day had come, evaded her promise and 
refused to marry him. Overcome with rage, Narak slew the 
cock, and the place where he did this is still known as Kukura- 
kata. By this act he lost for ever the favour of the Goddess. 

* Manu classes the Kirats with have the nickname Kirati. The 

Mlechchhas. Arjun is said to have name of the drug Chiretta is said 

adopted the name and appearance of to be a corruption of this word. 
a Kirat to learn archery from Siva, f e.g., Chapters 36 to 40 of the 

who was considered the special Kdlika Pur an, and the Bhdga- 

deity of that race. The Himalaya- vat, Book X, Chapter 59. 
born goddesses Uma and Ganga 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 13 

But his crowning misfortune was his refusal to permit 
Vasishtha Muni to go to worship at Kamakhya, in con- 
sequence of which the Muni cursed Narak and Kamakhya, 
saying that thenceforward no one who worshipped at the 
shrine of this Goddess should see the fulfilment of his desire. 
By the aid of Siva, the duration of the curse was limited 
to three hundred years, but Narak had now completely 
alienated both Kamakhya and Vishnu ; and he was eventually 
slain by the latter in the incarnation of Krishna. His capital 
was defended by pdnjis or caltrops, sharp stakes stuck in 
the ground, and by numerous outworks erected by the Asura 
Muru, but Krishna cut his way through with his discus 
and slew Muru and his sons ; he then entered the city and, 
after slaying thousands of daityas, engaged in a terrible 
combat with Narak, whom he clove in twain by a single 
blow of his deadly weapon. He recovered the golden earrings 
of Aditi, which Narak had stolen, and sent the 16,000 girls 
imprisoned in his harem, together with his 14,000 elephants 
and his horses, to his own home in Dvaraka, or Gujarat. 
He installed on the throne Bhagdatta, the eldest of Narak's 
four sons, who is sometimes called Bhagirath by Muham- 
madan writers. 

Opposite Gauhati, on the north bank, now stands the 
temple of Asvakranta, which means " ascended by horses/' 
Krishna is said to have stopped here when he came to invade 
Pragjyotisha, and a number of small holes in the rock near 
the river are pointed out as the footprints of his horses. 

Bhagdatta is frequently mentioned in the Mahabharat Bhag- 
as a powerful potentate ruling in the east. In the Sabha <iatta# 
Parvan, it is related that Arjun attacked his kingdom of 
Pragjyotisha. Bhagdatta had a host of Kirats and Chins and 
numerous other warriors that dwelt on the sea coast, but after 
eight days' fierce fighting he was defeated and compelled to 
pay tribute. Later on, when the forces of the Kauravas and 
Pandavas were being mustered for their final struggle, he went 
with a powerful army to the assistance of Duryodhan, and 
no less than four sections of the Drona Parvan are devoted 



14 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

to a narrative of his heroic deeds on the field o£ Kurukshetra, 
from the time when he rescued Duryodhan from the onslaught 
of Bhim to his fight with Arjun in which he was defeated 
and slain. The issue of this last combat is ascribed to the 
intervention of Krishna, who rendered harmless the invin- 
cible weapon which he had given to Bhagdatta's father 
Narak. 
Subse- This king, it is said, was succeeded by his brother Vajra- 

roierg f ^atta an( ^ ^he l a ^ er D y n ^ s own son Vajrapani. Narak's 
Narak' s descendants continued to rule for nineteen generations, the 
1 * ne< last kings of his line being Subahu and Suparua. Subahu 

became an ascetic and went to the Himalayas, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son Suparua, who was afterwards killed by his 
ministers. 
General It is impossible to say to what race this dynasty belonged, 

regarding ^ut ^ ne use °^ ^e a PP e Uation Asur shows that they were 
Narak's non-Hindus. Nor is there any clue as to when they reigned, 
ynas y. Bhagdatta is described as a contemporary of the heroes of the 
MaJiabharat, but that great epic, as is well known, is far from 
being the product of a single age, and no one has yet under- 
taken a critical examination of it in order to distinguish the 
original text from subsequent interpolations. We may, how- 
ever, conclude from the numerous references to them in 
ancient literature, as well as from the remarkable way in 
which their memory has been preserved by the people of 
Assam down to the present day, that Narak and Bhagdatta 
were real and exceptionally powerful kings, and probably 
included in their dominions the greater part of modern Assam 
and of Bengal east of the Karatoya. 

The story of Krishna's invasion may perhaps be taken to 
indicate an expedition by some ancient Aryan chief. We 
have already seen that as far back as 105 A.D., an Indian 
king named Samuda was reigning in Upper Burma, while in 
822 A J)., a prince of Cambod in north-west India set up a 
kingdom in Siam ; it is, therefore, by no means improbable 
that other adventurers found their way, at a still earlier period ■ 
to northern Bengal and Assam. 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 15 

The capital of Narak and his descendants was Prag- Notes on 
jyotishpur, the modern Gauhati. Prag means former or Pr&g- 
eastern, and jyotisha, a star, astrology, shining. Prag- 
jyotishpur may, therefore, be taken to mean the City of 
Eastern Astrology. The name is interesting in connection 
with the reputation which the country has always held as a 
land of magic and incantation and with the view that it was 
in Assam that the Tantrik form of Hinduism originated. 
From its commanding position on the Brahmaputra and its 
proximity to the sacred temple of Kamakhya, it is probable 
that many other kings also made this town their capital. 
However that may be, it was always a famous place and, as 
we shall see, several later dynasties claimed the title " Lord of 
Pragjyotisha," although in their time the actual capital was 
elsewhere. 

Krishna frequently appears in Assam Mythology. In the The rape 
Bhagavat it is narrated that there was a king named Bhishmak, °\ ** uk " 
who ruled in Vidarbha, which, according to popular tradition 
in Assam, is the designation of the country round Sadiya. 
According to ordinary Pauranik accounts Vidarbha corre- 
sponds to the modern Berar, but this is not the only case in 
which the early Hindu settlers in Assam assigned local sites 
for the occurrences mentioned in Hindu Mythology. Numer- 
ous similar instances occur in Further India, and even in 
Java, where many of the events narrated in the Mahabharat 
have been given a local habitation. The Brahmaputra valley 
is known to the Buddhists of Further India as Weisali. 
Bhishmak's capital was called Kundina, a name which still 
survives in the Kundil river at Sadiya \ and the ruins of an 
extensive fort, about 24 miles north of that town, between the 
gorges of the Dikrang and Dibong rivers, are said to be the 
remains of his capital.* The walls are of no great height, 
but they are very well preserved ; they consist of from six to 
nine courses of hewn stone (chiefly granite) surmounted by a 
breastwork of bricks, loopholed, but without any binding of 

* These ruins have been described by Hannay in the J. A. S. B. of 1848. 



16 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

cement. In the same locality are four large tanks and the 
brick foundations of what must have been extensive build- 
ings. 

Bhishmak had five sons and a daughter named Rukmini. 
Krishna, having heard of her beauty, was anxious to marry 
her, but her father had arranged to give her to another prince 
named Sisu Pal, whose fort may still be seen a few miles to 
the east of the one attributed to Bhishmak. Rukmini secretly 
sent the news to Krishna and, on the day fixed for her 
marriage, the latter suddenly appeared and carried her 
off in his chariot. He was pursued by the crowd of princes 
who had come to assist at the wedding, but he defeated 
them and married Rukmini at Kundina amid the rejoic- 
ings of the people. Many of the marriage songs current in 
Assam contain allusions to this legend, which has been trans- 
lated into Assamese and published under the title Rukmini 
Haran.* 
Ban Raja There is another story told in the Bhagavat, and also in 
of ^Soait. ^. ne Yishnu Pur an, to which a local site has been assigned. 
Bali, king of Sonitpur, " the city of blood w now known by 
the Assamese equivalent, Tezpur, had numerous sons, of whom 
Ban, the eldest, succeeded him. Ban, who was the contempor- 
ary of Narak, had many sons and one daughter, Usha by 
name. Usha was very beautiful and attracted the attention 
of Aniruddha, Krishna's grandson, who entered the castle 
where she was guarded and married her according to the Gan- 
dharva ceremony. He was seen and captured, after a valiant 
resistance, but was rescued by Krishna, who defeated Ban in 
a great battle, which is said to have been fought on the 
site of what is now known as the Tezpur bil. This story has 
been given an Assamese garb in a little book called Kumar 
Haran.f 

Ban Raja's fort is said to have been on the site now 
occupied by the Tezpur court' house. Numerous carved stones 
and frescoes are still to be seen in the locality, but they seem 

* Veda Press, Calcutta, 1890. f Veda Press, Calcutta, 1891. 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 17 

to have belonged to temples rather than to a palace. About 
a mile to the west is an old silted up tank which is ascribed 
to his time, and another tank in the same neighbourhood still 
bears the name of Kumbhanda his prime minister. His 
grandson Bhaluka made his capital at Bhalukpung, not far 
from Balipara at the foot of the Aka hills, where the remains 
of old fortifications are still visible. The Akas are said to 
claim this prince as their progenitor ; and it is, perhaps, not 
impossible that they are the remains of a people who once 
ruled in the plains and were driven into the hills by some 
more powerful tribe. 

In Canto IV of the "Raglin Fans a it is narrated that Raghu's 
Raghu crossed the Lohit, i.e., the Brahmaputra, and defeated ^ e °Yine 
the king of Pragjyotisha, who gave him a number of elephants of Prag- 
as tribute. jyotisha. 

According to the Jogini Tantra a Sudra named Debesvar Other 
was ruling in Kamarupa at the commencement of the Sak r'. a j 10 
era. Mention is also made of Nara Sankar or Nagakhya, 
who flourished towards the end of the fourth century at 
Pratapgarh in Bishnath, where the ruins of a fort attributed 
to him are still in existence, and of four kings, Mimang, 
Gajang, Sribang and Mrigang, who ruled for two hundred 
years at Lohityapur. 

A Kshatriya named Dharma Pal, it is said, came from the 
west and founded a kingdom. He made his capital west of 
Gauhati and attracted thither a number of Brahmans and 
other high-caste Hindus from Upper India. The sage Kendu 
Kulai is said to have lived in his reign. He was succeeded in 
turn by Padma Narayan, Chandra Narayan and others, ending 
with Earn Chandra, whose capital was at Ratnapur in the 
Majuli. This place is mentioned in the old legends as the 
capital of various kings, amongst others of Kusaranya, son 
of Harabinda, who is said in the Dipika Ghand to have 
ruled over Gaur, Kamarupa and Jaintia ; it is reputed to have 
been washed away owing to a change in the course of the 
Brahmaputra river. 

Ram Chandra had a beautiful wife who was raped by the Arimatta. 





18 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

Brahmaputra river and gave birth to a son named Arimatta.* 
This prince founded a kingdom further west and defeated 
many other chiefs. At last he came into conflict with Ram 
Chandra and killed him, not knowing till afterwards of his 
relationship with him. According to other accounts he acci- 
dentally shot his father with an arrow which he had discharged 
at a deer. In any case, the sin of patricide is generally 
attributed to him, and many stories are told of his vain 
efforts to atone for the sin which he had unwittingly 
committed. 

It is not certain where Arimatta ruled, but most accounts 
place his kingdom in Lower Assam. His capital is said to 
have been at the Baidargarh, near Betna in Kamrup, where a 
high embankment forming a square, each side of which is 
about four miles long, is still in existence. He was attacked 
by a king named Phengua, of the house of Kamatapur, who 
advanced with an army of Meches and Koches, armed with 
bows and arrows, and threw up an embankment ten miles west 
of the Baidargarh ; this embankment is in the Dhumdhuma 
Mauza and is still known as Phenguagarh. Phengua was at 
first defeated. He then engaged in an intrigue with 
Arimatta' s wife Ratnamala, and with her aid spoilt the bow- 
strings of his soldiers and slew him, and took possession of his 
capital. He put Ratnamala to death, saying that, as she had 
been unfaithful to her late husband, she would probably be 
false also to him, if he were to fulfil his promise and marry 
her. Arimatta's son Katna Singh continued the war, and 
eventually overcame Phengua Raja and killed him. He 
afterwards lost his kingdom, owing, it is said, to the curse 

* The traditions vary as to the ruled in succession at Ratnapur ; 

name and lineage of the king the wife of the last mentioned was 

whose wife gave birth to Arimatta, Harinati, the daughter of Hira- 

and it is useless trying to reconcile binda, who was descended from 

them. One version is given in the Irabatta, king of Saumar. Others, 

text. Another is that he was of again, identify him with Mrigang, 

the Nagakhya line, and another the fourth king of a dynasty that 

that he was the descendant of three is said to have ruled for two hun- 

kings named Mayurdhvaj, Tarn- dred years at Lohityapur in 

radhvaj and Pratappuriya who Kamrup. 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 19 

of a Brahman, with whose wife he had carried on an 
intrigue. 

In the Sahari Mauza in Nowgong are the remains of an 
old fort with high embankments known as the Jongalgarh* 
This is alleged to have been the capital of Jongal Balahu, 
another son of Arimatta, who was defeated by the Kacharis 
and drowned himself in the Kallang river. 

Many legends cluster round Arimatta, but it would serve 
no useful purpose to discuss them further, as it is quite im- 
possible to unravel the truth from the various conflicting 
stories that are current amongst the people. The Bajas of 
Rani and Dimarua both claim to be descended from him, as 
well as from Narak and Bhagdatta. 

We may conclude our notice of the legendary period by a Shankal. 
story culled from Muhammadan sources. In the introduction 
to Firishta's history* it is related that Kidar Brahman, a 
powerful king of Northern India, was overthrown by Shankal 
or Shangaldib, who came from Koch, that is to say, from the 
tract east of the Karatoya, or Kamarupa. He first conquered, 
it is said, Bang, or the country east of the Bhagirathi, and 
Bihar, and then collected an enormous army and vanquished 
Kidar in several hard-fought battles. He founded the city 
of Gaur or Lakhnauti, which, it is said, remained the capital 
of the kings of Bengal for two thousand years. t He was 
very proud and magnificent and had a force comprising 4,000 
elephants, 100,000 horse and 400,000 foot. 

His downfall is ascribed to Afrasiyab, the king of Turan 
or Scythia. The original Afrasiyab is believed to have con- 
quered Persia about seven centuries before the Christian era, 
but the name, which means "conqueror of Persia/'' was assumed 
by others of the family, and the monarch here referred to may 
have been a subsequent ruler of the same dynasty. However 
that may be, he appears to have claimed tribute, which Shankal 

* Dowson's Elliot's History of upon, it would suggest the query 

India, Yol. VI, page 533. whether the name of Gaur is not 

t If this story of the founding of in some way connected with G5ro. 

Gaur by an aboriginal tribe of Koch There is another Gaur under the 

or Garo affinities could be relied Garo hills in Sylhet. 

c2 



S10I1 



20 PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 

refused to pay. He sent an army of 50,000 Mongols against 
him, and a fierce battle took place in the mountains of Koch 
near Ghoraghat. The Mongols were defeated by overwhelm- 
ing numbers and retreated into the mountains. They 
entrenched themselves, but were on the point of being anni- 
hilated, when Afrasiyab hurried up with reinforcements from 
his capital Gangdozh, beyond the Himalayas, and utterly 
defeated Shankal. The latter retreated, first to Lakhnauti 
and then to the mountains of Tirhut, where he eventually 
made his submission and was carried off by Afrasiyab.* 
Conclu- The above account of the traditional rulers of Assam does 

not profess to be at all exhaustive. Eeligious books and other 
old writings contain lists of many other kings, but it is im- 
possible to say if they are genuine, and if so, who the kings 
were and where they reigned ; and to refer to them at length 
would be a waste of time and space. The dynasties mentioned 
above are those that are best known, and although a great 
part of the stories told of them may be fictitious, it is prob- 
able that there is nevertheless a basis of actual fact. 

There are numerous references to Pal kings, but the 

names vary greatly in different lists. The reason is that the 

title Pal was assumed by many different Rajas : Nar Narayan 

added Bhu Pal after his name, and one of the dynasties 

brought to light in two recently discovered copper-plates also 

used the title, though they were in no way related to the 

well-known Pal kings of Bengal ; at the present day in that 

Province the title is a favourite one with low-caste zamindars 

who wish to hide their humble origin. 

Reason Some of the legends which have been mentioned suggest I 

for small ^at in the distant past the inhabitants of the country which 

of monii- we now call Assam attained considerable power and a fair 

ments of (W ree of civilization: and this view is confirmed by the 
ancient n . . 

times in narrative of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang and by the 



Assam. 



* According to Maulavi Abdus tion with the adventures of 

Salam (translation of the Riyaz- Bahram Gaur, a Persian monarch 

us'Sxldtin, p. 56), Firdausi in his of the Sassanian dynasty who 

immortal epic mentions an Indian reigned in the middle of the 

Prince named Shangal in connec- fourth century. 



PREHISTORIC AND TRADITIONAL RULERS. 21 

copper-plate inscriptions which will be referred to in the next 
chapter. This being so, the question will doubtless be asked 
why so few memorials of their time have come down to us. 
The reason is that nature has vied with man in destroying 
them. The Brahmaputra valley is an alluvial country, and 
the impetuous, snow-fed rivers which debouch from the 
Himalayas find so little resistance in its friable soil that they 
are constantly carving out new channels and cutting away 
their banks ; consequently no buildings erected in their 
neighbourhood can be expected to remain for more than a 
limited time, except at a few points like Gauhati, where rock 
pierces through the alluvium. 

Though occurring at distant intervals, violent earthquakes 
are, in Assam, quite as great a cause of destruction as fluvial 
action ; and there are few masonry structures which could resist 
a shock like that of 1897, which not only laid in ruins the towns 
of Shillong, Gauhati and Sylhet, but also overthrew many of 
the monoliths, which are so marked a feature of the Khasi and 
Jaintia hills, and broke down most of the piers of the Sil 
Sako, an ancient stone bridge, not far from Hajo, which marks 
the bed of a river that has long since left it and taken another 
course. A less sudden, but almost equally potent, cause of da- 
mage is found in the luxuriant vegetation of the country ; the 
pip a I (ficus religiosa) in particular is a great enemy of masonry 
buildings ; and once a seed of this tree has germinated in the 
interstices of such a building, its downfall is only a question 
of time. Owing to this cause, many even of the more recent 
Ahom palaces and temples are already in a state of decay. 

Of the damage done by man, it is necessary only to men- 
tion the way in which religious zeal led the early Musalman 
invaders to break down Hindu temples, and the widespread 
havoc wrought by the Burmese in a spirit of wanton mischief. 

The ruins which still survive represent only an inconsi- 
derable fragment of the buildings that were once in existence, 
but more will doubtless come to light when the jungle which 
now covers so vast an area in Assam comes to be removed 
to make way for the extension of cultivation. 



22 THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENT 



account. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH TO THE TWELFTH 
CENTURIES. 

Hiuen The first authentic information regarding the ancient 

Tsiang 8 ]£a marU p a is contained in the account of his travels given by 
the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang, who toured in India in 
the first half of the seventh century. He was studying "the 
profound law of Buddha" at the Nalanda monastery in 
Magadha, or south Bihar, when Kumar Bhaskara Varman, 
the king of Kamarupa, sent messengers to invite him to his 
capital. He at first declined to go, but was induced to change 
his mind by Silabhadra, " master of Shastras" who pointed 
out that it was his duty to propagate the true law, and that 
he ought not to neglect the opportunity offered by this invi- 
tation from a king who listened to "the teaching of here- 
tics;" From Paundra Vardhana "going east 900 li or so 
(about 150 miles), crossing the great river, we come to the 
country of Kamarupa/' which Hiuen Tsiang describes as 
follows :— 

The country of Kamarupa is about 10,000 li (nearly 
1,700 miles) in circuit. The capital town is about 
30 li. The land lies low, but is rich and regularly 
cultivated. They cultivate the jack fruit and the 
coco-nut. These trees, though numerous, are never- 
theless much valued and esteemed. Water led from 
the river or from banked-up lakes flows round the 
towns. The climate is soft and temperate. The 
manners of the people are simple and honest. The 
men are of small stature and their complexion a dark 
yellow. Their language differs a little from that of 
mid -India. Their nature is very impetuous and 
wild ; their memories are retentive and they are 
earnest in study. 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 23 

They adore and sacrifice to the Devas and have no 
faith in Buddha; hence from the time Buddha 
appeared in the world, even down to the present day, 
there never as yet has been built one Sangharama 
as a place for the priests to assemble. Such dis- 
ciples as there are, are of a pure faith, say their 
prayers secretly and that is all. There are abundant 
Deva temples, and different sectaries to the number 
of several myriads. The present king belongs to 
the old line of Narayan Deb. He is of the Brahman 
caste. His name is Bhaskara Varman, his title 
Kumar. From the time that this family seized the 
land and assumed the Government, there have 
elapsed a thousand generations. The king is fond 
of learning and the people are so likewise in imita* 
tion of him. Men of high talent from distant 
regions, seeking after office, visit his dominions. 
Though he has no faith in Buddha, yet he much 
respects Sramanas of learning. 

On the east this country is bounded by a line of hills, 
so that there is no great city to the kingdom. 
The frontiers are contiguous to the barbarians of 
the south-west of China. These tribes are in fact 
akin to those of the Man people (i.e., " the south- 
west barbarians") in their customs. After a two 
months* journey we reach the south-western frontier 
of the province of Szechuen. But the mountains 
and rivers present obstacles, and the pestilential air, 
the poisonous vapours, the fatal snakes, the destruc- 
tive vegetation, all these causes of death prevail. 

On the south-east of this country herds of wild elephants 
roam about in numbers, therefore in this district 
they use them principally for war. Going 1,200 or 
1,300 U to the south (about 200 miles) we come to 
Samatata (East Bengal).* 

* Beal's Buddhist Records of the Western World, Vol. IT, p. 19S. 



H THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH 

Hiuen Tsiang left Kamarupa in the company of the Raja, 
who had accepted an invitation from Siladitya to attend his 
distribution of alms at Kajughira near Bhagalpur, a ceremony 
at which the Sramanas and Brahmans from all parts of India 
were invited to attend. 

The great river which our traveller crossed before entering 
Kamarupa was clearly the Karatoya, while, as the eastern 
boundary was a line of hills adjacent to the tribes on the 
Chinese frontier, the country evidently extended as far to the 
east as does the modern province of Assam. As its circum- 
ference was nearly 1,700 miles, it must have included the 
whole of Assam (except perhaps the Naga hills, Lushai hills 
and Manipur) and also Bhutan, North Bengal as far west as 
the Karatoya, and the part of Mymensingh which lies to the 
east of the old course of the Brahmaputra. It was in any 
case far larger than the adjoining kingdoms of Paundra Vard- 
hana and Samatata, the circumference of which is placed at 
only 700 and 500 miles respectively. The king was evidently 
a monarch of considerable power, and he seems to have taken 
rank above all the twenty Rajas who accepted Siladitya's 
invitation to Rajughira ; in the great procession there, Sila- 
ditya, himself led the way on the left, dressed as Shakra, 
while Bhaskara Varman personated Brahma Raja and 
occupied the corresponding position on the right. Both he 
and Siladitya had an escort of 500 elephants clad in armour. 

There were at this period no large towns, and the capital 
of the country does not appear to have been a place of much 
importance. The only indication which is given as to its 
locality is that it lay 150 miles east of Paundra Vardhana. 
Cunningham, after identifying the latter place with Pabna, 
concluded that it was at Kamatapur. This place, however, is 
north rather than east of Pabna, and the identification of 
Pabna with Paundra Vardhana is open to doubt. The 
site of this town is more likely to have been at Mahas- 
than on the right bank of the Karatoya, or at Pandua near 
Malda. In either case the distance to Gauhati would exceed 
150 miles, and it would thus seem that at that time the 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 25 

capital was somewhere further west, either in the Goalpara 
district or the Koch Bihar State, or in the north-east of 
Rangpur. 

The short stature and yellow complexion of the inhabit- 
ants, and their alleged affinities with the tribes on the south- 
west of China, may be taken as proving their Mongolian 
origin. To what extent the common people had come under 
the influence of Hinduism is uncertain, but it was the religion 
of the Court, and the king claimed to belong to the line of 
Narayan Deb. He is described as a Brahman, but most 
probably this is a mistake for Varman {Varmma, armour 
or defence), which was a common Kshatriya title and, as 
such, was frequently appropriated by aboriginal converts to 
Hinduism of high rank; it was used, amongst others, by 
Harjjara, who was ruling in 830 A.D., and, in more recent 
times, by members of the Kachari aristocracy. Hiuen Tsiang 
speaks very positively regarding the absence of Buddhists, both 
in his own time and at an earlier period. It was formerly 
thought that Buddhism had at one time great vogue in Assam, 
but this view seems to have been erroneous. There is no 
trace of this religion in the old records and inscriptions. The 
tradition amongst the Tibetans that Buddha died in Assam 
has been proved to be incorrect. The old rock-carved figure 
at Gauhati, which is now worshipped as Janardan Buddh, 
is said by Dr. Bloch to be an image of Vishnu ; and the same 
authority asserts that the image in the temple at Hajo, 
which was once thought to have been a Buddha, is really a 
statue of the Man-Lion incarnation of Vishnu of the ordinary 
mediaeval type. On the other hand, Bhaskara Varman was 
well disposed towards Buddhist monks, and this religion was 
firmly established both in Samatata to the south and in 
Paundra Vardhana to the east, both of which kingdoms 
boasted of monasteries and of Stupas erected by Asoka. 

After Hiuen Tsiang's visit darkness again falls on the The 
ancient history of Assam, but the discovery of several in- t^?^' 
scribed copper-plates to some extent relieves the gloom. period. 

It was the practice amongst native rulers of India, when 



26 THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH 

making grants of land to Brahmans and others, to record 
the fact on copper-plates, which served as the donees' title 
deeds. The inscriptions were drawn np by Pandits attached 
to the court, and the language was usually Sanskrit verse. 
They commenced with a brief description of the king's 
ancestry, and usually gave some account of his personal 
qualities, of the extent of country ruled by him, and of his 
capital. After this preamble, which to us forms the most 
important part, followed the name of the grantee and the 
specification of the lands granted to him. An attempt will 
now be made to piece together the facts gleaned from the 
plates above referred to and to give a connected, though 
necessarily very fragmentary, account of the kings who ruled 
over the country from the date of Hiuen Tsiang's visit to 
the middle of the twelfth century. 

Altogether six sets of copper-plates have been discovered 
the inscriptions on which refer to grants of land by the 
kings of ancient Kamarupa. They are as follow : — 

(i) The Tezpur copper-plate of Vana Mala. This was 
described in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for 
1840, page 766. The record is unsatisfactory both with 
regard to the original text and the English translation. 

(ii) The Nowgong copper-plate of Bala Varman. This 
was brought to light by me in 1895 and was described by 
Dr. Hcernle in the Journal of the same Society for 1897, Part 
1, page 285. On palseographical grounds Dr. Hcernle thinks 
that this inscription was probably prepared about 990 A.D. 

(iii) and (iv) The Sualkuchi and Bargaon copper-plates of 
Ratna Pal. These were procured by me in 1896 and 1897 
and deciphered in the same Journal for 1898, Part 1, page 99, 
by Dr. Hcernle, who attributes them to the first half of 
the eleventh century. 

(v) The Gauhati copper-plate of Indra Pal, obtained by 
me in 1893 and deciphered by Dr. Hcernle in the Journal for 
1897, Part 1, page 29. 

(vi) The Benares copper-plates of Vaidya Deb. This 
was found at Benares in 1892 and deciphered in 1893, by 



AN II. 




I ' .in ii yy i ' m m " ' "it" 















Survey of India Offices. Calputta,l)ecemben 1905. 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 27 

Professor Venis, who calculates that it was prepared in 
1142 A.D. 

In addition an inscription has been found on a rock near Tezpur 
Tezpur. It was shown to me in 1893 by a native gentle- ? ock . 
man who thought that it was the work of the Burmese, n 0TLt 
but it was clearly much more ancient. A photograph was 
taken of it, but, owing to erosion and the rough surface of 
the stone, mistakes were made in chalking the letters, and 
the result was not satisfactory. Quite lately Dr. T. Bloch 
has prepared a mechanical estampage, and from this the 
name of the ruling king, Harjjara Varman, has been read, 
and also the date, which is in the Gupta year 510, corre- 
sponding to 829-30 A.D. Harjjara was the second king of 
the dynasty referred to in the Tezpur and Nowgong copper- 
plates ; and the ascertainment of his date seems to show that 
these two plates must have been executed at an earlier period 
than had been estimated by Dr. Hoernle on the somewhat 
uncertain basis of paleography. 

All the copper-plate inscriptions commence with a refer- Dynasty 
enee to Narak " of the Asur race " who conquered Kama- Jj g aia 
rupa and took up his abode in Pragjyotisha, " the best of 
towns/'' He was followed by his son Bhagdatta, and the 
latter by others of his line for several generations. Then, 
"by an adverse turn of fate," the kingdom was taken 
possession of by Sala Stambha, "a great chief of the Mlech- 
chhas/' who was followed by Vigraha Stambha, Palaka 
Stambha., Vijaya Stambha and others of the same race end- 
ing with Sri Harish. From the names of these Mlech- 
chha kings it may be concluded that they, like so many of 
their successors, were converted to Hinduism as soon as they 
became worthy of the notice of the local Brahman priests. 

The only clue as to the period when they ruled is fur- 
nished by the statement in the copper-plate inscriptions of 
Ratna Pal that twenty kings intervened between Sala 
Stambha and Brahma Pal. The inscriptions in question 
appear, from the form of the letters, to have been prepared 
between 1010 and 1050 A.D., and as the grants recorded in 



28 THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH 

them were executed in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth 
years of Ratna Pal's reign, we may perhaps take 1000 A.D. 
as the date when his father, the founder of the dynasty, 
ascended the throne. Allowing an average of sixteen years 
for each of the previous twenty-one kings, we get 664 A.D., 
as the approximate date of Sala Stambha's accession to 
power. It would thus appear that he subverted the dynasty 
of Bhaskara Varman not many years after Hiuen Tsiang's 
visit to the country. It must, however, be remembered that 
the date assumed for Ratna Pal's plates depends solely on 
palaeographical considerations, and that there may be an 
error of fifty years, or even more, in the figure thus obtained. 
The The next line mentioned in the copper-plates is that of 

dynasty p ra kmbha, the father of Harjjara, who may be assumed to 
lambha. have risen to power about 800 A.D., i.e., thirty years be- 
fore the time of Harjjara's inscription on the rock near 
Tezpur. The same date may perhaps be taken as that of 
the extinction of Sala Stambha's dynasty, but this is not 
quite certain. It might be inferred from the Tezpur plate 
that Pralambha came immediately after Sri Harish, but 
the reading of this plate is not very trustworthy, and it 
is possible that the latter is identical with Harsha Deb, the 
father of Jay Deb, king of Nepal, who is referred to in a 
copper-plate of that monarch prepared in 759 A.D.* The 
said Harsha Deb is described as the descendant of Bhagdatta, 
and, although he is said to have ruled over Gaur, Orissa and 
other countries this may be merely an instance of the poetic 
exaggeration which was so frequently indulged in by the 
scribes and panegyrists of early Hindu kings. 

The dynasty of Pralambha has left three relics in the 
shape of the Tezpur rock inscription and the Tezpur and 
Nowgong copper-plates. The first-mentioned record gives 
us, for the present, merely the name Harjjara and a date 

* This plate has been translated case be the Harsha Vardhana of 

in the Nabya Bharat, Part XIII, Kanauj, as the latter reigned a 

1302 B.E. The Harsha Deb of hundred years earlier, 
this inscription cannot in any 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 29 

corresponding to 829-30 A.D. The Tezpur plate supplies 
the names of three kings, Pralambha, Harjjara and Vana 
Mala, in the last of whose reigns it was inscribed, while the 
Nowgong plate omits Pralambha, but adds Jay Mala, Vira 
Bahu and Bala Varman, the last-mentioned being the donor 
of the land referred to in that plate. We have no means 
of knowing how much longer the dynasty lasted, but if the 
assumption that the first of the Pal kings rose to power about 
1000 A.D. be correct, it cannot have been more than a hundred 
years. The ruler immediately preceding the first Pal king 
was named Tyag Singh, who died without heirs and who 
is described in the Ratna Pal plates as an " illustrious chief." 
From the absence of any indication to the contrary we may 
perhaps assume that he belonged to the family of Pralambha, 
which would thus have ruled the country for a period of about 
two hundred years in all. 

It is claimed by the scribes of this dynasty that they were 
descended from Narak and Bhagdatta, but in the copper- 
plates of the Pal kings, who in their turn put forward the 
same claim, they are referred to as Mlechchhas or non-Hindus. 
The explanation doubtless is that both dynasties were of 
aboriginal origin and that when they rose to power, they were 
converted to Hinduism and fitted out with a noble ancestry 
by the Brahmans, who have always been adepts in procuring 
for themselves protection, favour and power by inducing the 
aboriginal chiefs to enter the fold of Hinduism on the fiction 
that they are descended from some god of the Hindu pantheon 
or some potentate in Hindu Mythology. In more recent 
times the Rajas of Rani and Dimarua have in this way been 
connected with the dynasty of Bhagdatta, and the Koch, 
Kachari and Manipuri Rajas have also been provided by 
their priestly parasites with a divine or a heroic lineage. 

It may be mentioned here that the people in whose favour 
these land grants were executed were all of them Yajurvedi 
Brahmans. Both Pralambha's dynasty and that of Brahma 
Pal used on their seals the same emblem, viz., the full face 
figure of an elephant, 



80 THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH 

Pralambha killed or banished all the members of the 
former ruling family. His wife was named Jivada. He was 
succeeded by his son Harjjara, who, by his wife Tara, had a 
son Vana Mala. The latter, who became king in his turn, 
is described as having a broad chest, a thick -set neck and 
club-like arms, a noble disposition and a dignified and serious 
demeanour. He was an ardent worshipper of Siva. He 
enjoyed an unusually long reign. His kingdom is said to 
have extended as far as the sea-shore. This may have been 
an invention of the panegyrist, but it should be noted that a 
passage in a copper-plate of the Bengal king Deb Pal, who 
reigned soon afterwards, has been interpreted as meaning that 
that monarch assisted the king of Kamarupa in an expedition 
against the king of Orissa.* 

Although he and his successors, and indeed the next 
dynasty also, still claimed the title " Lord of Pragjyotisha," 
it would seem that at this time the seat of government was 
elsewhere, and that the word Pragjyotisha had come to indi- 
cate the country of which Pragjyotishpur had so long been 
the capital, just as Lakhnauti was once used to designate the 
part of Bengal ruled by the Muhammadans, and the tract 
now known as Assam includes large areas far removed from 
the locality which first bore that name. 

Bala Varman, the sixth king of Pralambha's line, dated 
the grant recorded in the Nowgong copper-plate from Harup- 
pesvar on the Brahmaputra, and, as he calls this place his 
" ancestral camp/'' it may be assumed to have been also that 
of Vana Mala, by whom " a row of palaces was erected which, 
though having no equal in the world stood equal (i.e., level) 
on the ground, though not limited in room possessed many 
rooms, and though gay with general ornamentation was also 
furnished with true pictures." There is now no trace of any 
place called Haruppesvar, but from the rock inscription at 
Tezpur, and from the locality where the two copper-plates of 
this dynasty were found, we may perhaps hazard the 

* Ind. Ant. Vol. XV, page 308. 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 81 

suggestion that it was east of Gauhati and, very possibly, 
not far from Tezpur. 

Vana Mala was followed by his son Jay Mala who pre- 
ferred religious exercises to his kingly duties, and, as soon as 
his son Yira Bahu was old enough to rule, he "made over to 
him the (royal) umbrella, of moon-like whiteness, together 
with the two (royal) c kauris (or fly flaps) and then, bravely 
enduring the rite of religious suicide through starvation, 
became absorbed into the light of the Divine Being." Vira 
Bahu married a princess named Amba, of rank equal to his 
own and of great beauty. He won many victories over his 
enemies and then, being attacked by an incurable disease, 
made over his throne and crown to his son Bala Varman 
who was " tall of body, in appearance like a lion cub," victor- 
ious in battle, harsh to his enemies, gentle towards religious 
preceptors, truthful and generous. 

Of his successors, we as yet know nothing. 

About the year 1000 A.D., the ruling prince Tyag The Pal 
Singh died childless and, it is said, the people, thinking it Dy na sty. 
well that one of Narak's race should be appointed as their 
ruler, chose Brahma Pal from among his descendants to be 
their king, as he appeared best fitted to undertake the 
government of the country. Brahma Pal married a lady 
who was named Kula Debi, by reason of her devotion to 
her people. This king was of a mild and peaceable disposi- 
tion and, when his son Ratna Pal grew up, he abdicated 
in his favour, and having done so, " went to Heaven ; for 
noble minded men who know the good and evil of the world, 
know to do that which is suitable to the occasion." His 
son, of whom we have two copper-plate inscriptions (those of 
Bargaon and Sualkuchi), was a man of a very different stamp, 
being a strong and warlike ruler. In the copper-plate of 
his grandson Indra Pal he is described as "the mighty 
crusher of his enemies who studded the earth with white- 
washed temples, the skies with the smoke of his burnt offer- 
ings, and all the quarters of the earth with the pillar monu- 
ments of his victories." It is said that he came into 



82 THE PERIOD FROM THE SEVENTH 

hostile contact with the kings of Gurjara, Gaur, Kerala and 
the Dekkan, but this is probably mere bombast. He built 
his capital on the bank of the Brahmaputra and surrounded 
it with a rampart and strong palisade, whence he named 
it Durjaya, or * Impregnable/'' Many wealthy merchants 
lived there in safety, and it boasted of many plastered tur- 
rets. Learned men, religious preceptors and poets, encouraged 
by the king, made it a place of resort. He is said to have 
derived much wealth from his copper mines, but no indication 
is given as to the part of the country in which these mines 
were situated ; possibly they lay in Bhutan which, as stated 
elsewhere, was probably at one time subject to the kings of 
Kamarupa. 

Ratna Pal must have enjoyed a long reign, as he had 
already ruled twenty-six years when the second of his copper- 
plate inscriptions was drawn up. His son Purandar Pal 
was "a ruler of wide renown, liberal, jovial, pious and 
accomplished in all arts, a hero as well as a poet," and 
passionately fond of the chase. He obtained as wife a 
princess of Kshatriya stock named Durlabha by whom he 
had a son named Indra Pal. Owing to a small portion of the 
inscription being illegible, the question is not free from doubt, 
but it would seem that Purandar Pal died before his father, 
and that the latter was succeeded by his grandson Indra Pal. 
This prince was addicted more to study than to war; and 
during his reign the country enjoyed peace and prosperity. 
So says his copper-plate inscription, which was prepared in 
the eighth year of his reign, but if the chronology be correct 
it was apparently this prince who according to an inscription 
found at Rajshahi, was subjugated by Bijay Sen,* the king 
of Bengal. 
Vaidya When the next and last copper -plate (that found at 
Deb. Benares) was inscribed, between fifty and a hundred years 
later, we find the kings of Pragjyotisha feudatory to 
the Bengal line of Pal kings, who had by this time driven 
back the Sen dynasty and regained their former position 

*J.A. S. B., 1878, page 401, 



TO THE TWELFTH CENTURIES. 88 

as the paramount; power in North Bengal. About 1138 
A.D., Tishya Deb, who was then king of Pragjyotisha, 
rebelled against his Suzerain, Kumar Pal, and the latter 
sent an army against him under his minister, a Brahman 
named Vaidya Deb. Vaidya Deb defeated and killed 
Tishya Deb and succeeded him as king of Pragjyo- 
tisha. The land-grant which bears his name was issued 
about 1142 A.D., in the ninth year of his reign, from his 
" victorious camp " at Hamsa Konchi, a place which has 
not yet been identified. He appears to have remained 
feudatory to the Pal kings, but, from his assumption of 
the title Maharajadhiraj, his vassalage seems to have sat 
very lightly on him. 



34 EVENTS OF THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH 



CHAPTER III. 

EVENTS OF THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH CENTURIES 
(EXCLUDING AHOM HISTORY) 

Muham- For sixty years after the copper-plate inscription of Vaidya 

ma< * Deb, we are left without any knowledge of the condition of 

2Sg Kamarupa. About 1198 A.D., Muhammad Bakhtyar Khilji 
invasion, overthrew Lakhmaniya, the last Sen king of Bengal, and a 
few years later he set out on a filibustering expedition to the 
north.* At this time the ruler of Kamarupa bore the title 
Kamesvar, and his western boundary was the Karatoya river. 
Guided by a Mech Chief, Muhammad Bakhtyar marched 
northwards along the right bank of this river for ten days, 
through a country inhabited by the Koch, Mech and Tharu 
tribes. He crossed the river by a bridge of twenty-nine 
arches of hewn stone, and soon afterwards entered the hills. 
He wended his way through defiles and passes among lofty 
mountains until, on the sixteenth day, he again emerged in 
an open country, studded with large villages. He plundered 
the inhabitants, but was at last checked by an army of 
Mongol horsemen and compelled to retrace his steps. The 
return journey was disastrous. The people had removed 
from the line of march and had burnt everything, and for fif- 
teen days the troops endured great privations. On reaching 
the plains of Kamarupa he found that the Raja had destroyed 
the bridge and was preparing to attack him with an over- 
whelming force. 

He took shelter in a temple, but the Raja besieged him 
and threw up a bamboo palisade all round his encampment. 
He broke through this, but most of his followers were drowned 
in trying to cross the river, and only Muhammad Bakhtiyar 

* The 6tory of Muhammad 560. See also Riyaz-us-Salatin 

Bakhtyar's invasion of Tibet is (Abdus Salam's translation), pages 

told in the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, vide 65 to 68, 
I^ayerty's translation, Vol. I, page 



CENTURIES (EXCLUDING AHOM HISTORY). 35 

himself with a few hundred horsemen succeeded in reaching 
the other bank. He was there assisted by the Mech inhabit- 
ants, and with their aid managed to find his way to Deokot 
in the south of Dinajpur. 

Ghiyas-ud-din, a Governor of Bengal in the early part of Other 
the thirteenth century, is said to have ascended the m ^^" 
Brahmaputra as far as Sadiya, but in the end he was invasions, 
defeated and driven back to Gaur. This invasion is men- 
tioned in the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri* where it is assigned to the year 
1227 A.D., but the seizure of his own capital by Nasiruddin, 
eldest son of the Emperor Altamsh, is there given as the 
cause of his hasty return from Assam. 

The next invasion was that of Tughril Khan, about 1278 
A.D. For a time he was successful, and he celebrated his 
conquest by erecting a mosque, but, when the rains set in and 
the country was flooded, his men were reduced to great straits 
and large numbers died. The king of Kamarupa returned 
from the hills, where he had taken refuge, and gave battle. 
The Sultan was killed and his army defeated, and only a few 
succeeded in making good their escape to Bengal.f 

In 1337 Muhammad Shah "sent 100,000 horsemen well- 
equipped to Assam, but the whole army perished in that land 
of witchcraft and not a trace of it was left. He sent a second 
army to avenge the former disaster, but when they came to 
Bengal they would go no farther, and the plan had to be 
given up/'t 

The scanty accounts of these expeditions throw very little Internal 
light on the internal condition of the country east of the 5* at £ °* 
Karatoya. They prove that that river was still the western putra 
boundary of a kingdom of considerable power and extent, but IS 11 ^ m 
there is nothing to show how far it stretched to the east. tury. 
For enlightenment on this point we must turn to the Buranjis 
of the Ahoms, who entered the eastern corner of the Brahma- 
putra valley early in the thirteenth century, and whose 

* Raverty's translation, Vol. I, t Ihid, page 263. 

page 594. % Alamgimamah, page 731. 

9% 



36 EVENTS OF THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH 

appearance on tbe scene not only changed the whole course of 
Assam history, but has provided us, from that time forward, 
with a connected and reliable account of the progress of 
events there. It appears from these records that a line of 
Chutiya kings ruled the country east of the Subansiri and the 
Disang, with the exception of a strip to tbe south and south- 
east, where several small Bodo tribes enjoyed a precarious 
independence. Further west, there was a Kachari kingdom, 
on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, which probably 
extended at least half-way across the Nowgong district. There 
are no records referring to the time when the Kacharis were 
the dominant tribe in this part of the country, beyond a few 
scanty references to collisions between them and the Ahoms 
in the Buranjis of the latter. They survived, however, as a 
separate nation until the early part of the last century. Of 
the latter part of their history, a few scraps of information 
are forthcoming ; and these have been collected in Chapter X. 
West of the Kacharis on the south bank, and of the Chutiyas 
on the north, were a number of petty chiefs called Bhuiyas. 
Each was independent of the others within his own domain, 
but they seem to have been in the habit of joining their 
forces whenever they were threatened by a common enemy. 
The boundary between the tract ruled by these Bhuiyas 
and the kingdom of Kamarupa doubtless varied from 
time to time ; a powerful prince would bring many of them 
under his control, but they would again become independent 
when the sceptre passed into the hands of a weaker ruler. 
The Baro These chiefs are well remembered in Assam legends as the 
U1 7 a ' t c £aro (twelve) Bhuiya," a title which was formerly supposed 
to indicate a connection with the aboriginal tribe of the same 
designation in Chota Nagpur. This, of course, is not the 
case; and the late Dr. Wise has clearly shown,* in connection 
with Eastern Bengal, where there was also in former times a 
group of chiefs bearing the same title, that, in this connec- 
tion, the word " Bhuya w or " Bhuiya " has nothing to do 
with caste, but is merely the Sanskrit equivalent of the 
* J.A..S. B., 1874, Pt. I, page 197; and 1875, Pt. I, page 181, 



CENTURIES (EXCLUDING AHOM HISTORY). 37 

Persian word " Zamindar/' It is not clear why the number 
w twelve M should always be associated with them, both in 
Bengal and Assam. Whenever they are enumerated, twelve 
persons are always mentioned, but the actual names vary, just 
as in the case of the Muhammadan u Panch Pir," different 
saints are counted by different people. It seems to have 
been the practice in this part of India for kings to appoint 
twelve advisers or governors. Nar Narayan had twelve 
ministers of State ; twelve chiefs or dolois administered the 
hilly portion of the Raja of Jaintia's Dominions, and there 
were twelve State Councillors in Nepal. The number may 
thus have become connected in the minds of the people with 
all dignitaries ranking next to a Raja, and so have come to 
be used in a purely conventional sense. 

There are various stories regarding the Baro Bhuiya, but Varying 
it would be useless to try and reconcile them ; they often a ° c ° unts 
refer to entirely different groups of chiefs, and they are, to 
a great extent, mere legends. The Bhuiyas who were 
ruling north of the Brahmaputra and east of the Chutiya 
kingdom at the time when the Ahoms entered Assam 
claimed to be the descendants of Samudra, the minister of 
Arimatta, who, it is said, seized the throne on the expulsion 
of Arimatta's son Ratna Singh. Samudra was succeeded by 
his son Manohar, and the latter's daughter Lakshmi gained 
the love of the Sun God, by whom she had two sons Santanu 
and Samanta. The former became a Vaishnava by sect and 
the latter a Sakta ; they accordingly separated, Santanu and 
his sons going to Rampur in Nowgong, while Samanta 
remained at Lakshmipur, the place from which the modern dis- 
trict of Lakhimpur takes its name. His sons succeeded him 
there, and maintained their independence against the 
Kachari king who then ruled in Central Assam and the 
Chutiya king of Sadiya. They were eventually defeated by 
the Ahoms, as will be narrated further on. One of Santanu's 
descendants named Rajdhar settled at Bardowa in Nowgono- ; 
and his son Kusambar was the father of the great religious 
reformer Sankar Deb. 



38 EVENTS OF THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH 

In the Guru Ckaritra, and also in the SanJcara Chariira, 
another version is given of the origin of the Baro Bhuiya of 
Nowgong, A Raja of Kamatapur, named Durlabh Narayan, 
went to war with another Raja, named Dharma Narayan, who 
styled himself Gauresvar, or Lord of Gaur. This title was 
often claimed by quite petty chiefs ; and in the eighth and 
ninth centuries there were at times as many as six princelings 
in North Bengal all calling themselves Gauresvar simulta- 
neously j* Gaur was also the ancient name of part of the 
modern district of Sylhet. It is thus impossible to say 
where Dharma Narayan ruled, but it is said that when peace 
was concluded he sent seven families of Brahmans and seven 
families of Kayasths to Durlabh, who settled them on the 
frontier, as wardens of the marches, and gave them lands and 
slaves. The ablest of them was a Kayasth named Chandibar, 
who became their leader. Their head -quarters were at Paima- 
guri, where they earned the gratitude of the people by 
erecting a bund. Subsequently the Bhutias raided and carried 
off a number of people, including the son of Chandibar, 
but the latter, with the other Bhuiyas, followed the raiders and 
rescued the captives. He subsequently settled at Bardowa in 
Nowgong, where his great-grandson Sankar Deb was born. 

When the Koch kings rose to power they subdued a 

number of local chiefs who ruled the country between the 

Sankosh and the Bar Nadi, but these, though also called 

Bhuiyas, were not in any way connected with those whose 

traditional origin has been narrated above. 

The The Chutiyas now number about a twelfth of a million, 

Chutiyas and are found chiefly in Lakhimpur and the adjacent part 

a lya. o £ gg^gg^ Their language, which is still known to the 

Deoris, or priestly section of the tribe, is unmistakably 

Bodo, but their appearance suggests that they have in their 

frames a considerable infusion of Shan blood. They occupied 

a tract not far removed from the home of the Shans, 

and the probability is that they absorbed considerable 

* ArchcBological Survey of India, Vol. XV, page 111. 



CENTURIES (EXCLUDING AHOM HISTORY). 39 

numbers of the earlier immigrants of that race, just as in 
more recent times they have intermarried with the Ahoms, to 
such an extent that, at the census of 1891, one-third of 
those who recorded their subtribe described themselves as 
Ahom-Chutiyas. 

The Chutiyas have numerous traditions, all of which point 
to their having followed a Hindu dynasty in Sadiya, or 
Vidarbha. The said dynasty appears to have collapsed by a 
process of internal decay, leaving the people of Upper Assam 
split up into a number of small independent communities. 
The Chutiya legends are full of all sorts of impossible 
absurdities which it would be useless to repeat, and it is 
questionable how far even the main incidents, which are sum- 
marized below, represent real facts.* 

The founder of the Chutiya kingdom is said to have been 
a chief named Bir Pal, who claimed descent from the mythical 
Bhishmak, and ruled over sixty families on a hill called 
Sonagiri. His son, who is called in the legend Sonagiri Pal, 
alias Gauri Narayan, brought under his yoke the Chutiyas on 
the neighbouring hills (Rangalgiri, Nilgiri, Chandragiri, etc.). 
He then turned his arms against a Raja named Bhadra Sen, 
who ruled in the plains, and defeated him, taking a large 
quantity of booty and many prisoners of various Hindu 
castes. He built a capital at Ratnapur and assumed the 
name Ratnadhvaj Pal. Subsequently he subdued another 
chief named Nyaya Pal and, it is alleged, marched to 
Kamatapur and compelled the Raja of that country to give 
him a daughter in marriage. He was followed by nine kings 
of his line, the eighth of whom, Dhir Narayan, had a daughter 
but no son. The girl married a Chutiya lad of low origin, 
who had beaten all his rivals in the contest prescribed for her 
hand. Dhir Narayan afterwards had a son named Sadhak, 
and, while the boy was still a minor, he made his son-in-law 

* A fuller account of one legend and two others are given in Mr. W. 
will be found in my Report on B. Brown's Deori-Chutiya Oram* 
Historical Research in Assam, mar. 



40 EVENTS OP THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH 

regent and abdicated. The regent, who proved a very incom- 
petent ruler, was attacked and killed by the Ahoms ; but they 
spared the life of the young Raja and gave him an estate in 
Lower Assam, bounded on the north by the Kobirar Ali, on 
the south by the Brahmaputra, on the east by the Rota and 
the west by the northern Dhansiri of Darrang. Thus far the 
legends. All that we really know is that Chutiya kings were 
reigning at Sadiya at the beginning of the thirteenth century, 
that there were frequent wars between them and the Ahoms, 
who finally overthrew them and subverted their kingdom in 
the early part of the sixteenth century. These events will be 
dealt with in the narrative of Ahom rule. 
Human The religion of the Chutiyas was a curious one. They 

worshipped various forms of Kali with the aid, not of Brah- 
mans, but of their tribal priests or Deoris. The favourite 
form in which they worshipped this deity was that of Kesai 
Khati, " the eater of raw flesh," to whom human sacrifices 
were offered. After their subjugation by the Ahoms, the 
Deoris were permitted to continue their ghastly rites ; but 
they were usually given for the purpose criminals who had 
been sentenced to capital punishment. Failing them, victims 
were taken from a particular clan, which in return was 
accorded certain privileges. The person selected was fed 
sumptuously, until he was in sufficiently plump condition to 
suit the supposed taste of the goddess, and he was then 
decapitated at the Copper Temple at Sadiya, or at some 
other shrine of the tribe. Human sacrifices were also formerly 
offered by the Tipperas, Kacharis, Koches, Jaintias and other 
Assam tribes,* and it is thus easy to see how they came to be 
regarded favourably by the Tantrik sect of Hinduism which 
is believed to have had its origin in this corner of India. 
The king- It remains to deal with the western part of the Brahma- 
Kfimata P u ^ra valley, which in former times, as we have seen, was 
included in the ancient kingdom of Kamarupa, whose western 

* Further details will he found in in Ancient Assam, J. A. S. B., 
my paper on Human Sacrifices 1898, page 56. 



centuries (Excluding ahom history). 41 

boundary was the Karatoya. At the period with which we are 
now dealing, the whole tract up to the Karatoya seems still, as 
a rule, to have formed a single kingdom, but the name had 
been changed from Kamarupa to Kamata.* The Muham- 
madan historians sometimes speak as if the terms Kamarupa 
and Kamata were synonymous and applicable to one and the 
same country, but on other occasions they appear to regard 
them as distinct, and it is possible that at times the tracts 
east and west of the Sankosh owed allegiance to different 
rulers, just as they did in the latter days of Koch rule. 

One of the legends of the Baro Bhuiya mentions Durlabh 
Narayan as a Raja of Kamata and, if it can be relied on, he 
would seem to have ruled at the end of the thirteenth century 
over the country between the Bar Nadi and the Karatoya. 
About the same time, mention is made in the Ahom Buranjis 
of a war between the Ahoms and the Kamata Raja, in which 
the latter was worsted and forced to give a daughter in mar- 
riage to the Ahom monarch. In the reign of the latter's suc- 
cessor, a Raja of Kamata intervened in a quarrel between him 
and his rebellious half-brother, who was a son of the Kamata 
princess, invaded his country and compelled him to agree 
to a reconciliation. 

The only Kamata dynasty of which we have any connected The Khen 
account is that of the Khyan, or Khen, kings, whose last kings, 
representative, Nilambar, was overthrown by Husain Shah 
in 1498 A.D. 

To what race the Khens belonged it is impossible to say. 
The great majority of them have now been absorbed in the 
ranks of other communities. The few who still retain the 
tribal name claim to be Kayasths, and are said to betray in 
their physiognomy a considerable infusion of Aryan blood, 
but this was probably received after their rise to power, and 
affords no clue to their origin. The defeat of their last king 
by Husain Shah is a historic fact. In other respects the 

* Shown as Comotay in the Map trum Orbis Terrarum (Amster- 
of India given in Blaev's Thea- dam, 1650). 



42 EVENTS OF THIRTEENTH TO FIFTEENTH 

traditions regarding them lack corroboration, but they are 
not in their main features improbable. It is said that the 
founder of the dynasty was a cowherd whose master, a Brah- 
man, is said to have foretold that he would become king, and 
helped him to overthrow the last degenerate descendant of the 
Pal family. On ascending the throne he embraced the Hindu 
religion, assumed the name Niladhwaj and made his old 
master his chief mantri or minister. He is reputed to have 
imported many Brahmans from Mithila. His capital was at 
Kamatapur, on the left bank of the Dharla, which flows south- 
west of the town of Koch Bihar, but he did not apparently 
exercise control over more than a very small part of the old 
kingdom of Kamarupa. Buchanan Hamilton who visited the 
ruins of Kamatapur, estimated its circumference at nineteen 
miles. The palace, as in the case of Burmese and Chinese 
towns, stood in the centre. 

His son, Chakradhvaj, succeeded him, and the latter was 
in turn followed by his son Nilambar, who attained to great 
power and extended his rule eastwards to the Bar Nadi and 
westwards as far as the Karatoya; he also included within 
his dominions the north-eastern part of the tract which had 
previously belonged to the Muhammadan rulers of Bengal. 
He did much to improve communications and, amongst other 
works, constructed a magnificent road from Kamatapur to 
Ghoraghat, a portion of which still forms part of the main 
road between Koch Bihar, Rangpur and Bogra. 

Husain According to tradition, the fall of Nilambar was in this 

Shah's w - ge . 

conquest . , ... 

of Kama- The son of his Brahman Councillor had an intrigue with 

tapur. fa Q q Ue en, and the king, hearing of it, caused him to 

be killed. He then invited the father to a banquet, and, 

after making him partake of his son's flesh, told him the whole 

story.* The Councillor at once left the kingdom, under the 

pretence of making a pilgrimage to the Ganges in order to 

* For other instances of this ghastly barbarity, see pages 74 and 160. 



centuries (Excluding ahom history). 43 

wash away the sin committed by his son. But his real object 
was revenge. To obtain it ; he went to Husain Shah, the 
Muhammadan ruler at Gaur, and, telling him of the weakness 
of Nilambar's kingdom, persuaded him to send a large army 
to invade it. Husain Shah laid siege to Kamatapur, but all 
his efforts to take it were frustrated. At last, it is said that 
he announced to the king his intention to return to his own 
country, but begged that before doing so his wife might be 
permitted to pay a visit to Nilambar's queen. By means 
of this subterfuge some armed men were introduced into the 
city in litters, and with their aid it was captured. Nilambar 
was taken prisoner, and it was intended to carry him to Gaur, 
but on the way he made his escape and was never heard of 
again. The capture of Kamatapur is generally assigned to 
the year 1498. 

The Muhammadan accounts of Husain Shah's invasion The 
are very brief, but it appears that after sacking Kamatapur Munpm * 
he reduced the country as far east as the Bar Nadi and left are defeat- 
his son at Hajo as governor of the conquered territory. He ®J* bv tlie 
celebrated his success by the erection of a Madrasah at Malda, 
the inscription of which bears a date corresponding to 1501-02 
A.D. Some years later, an attempt was made to annex the 
Ahom country, and this led to the destruction of the 
entire Muhammadan army and the loss of the whole of the 
newly, conquered territory.* 

After the departure of the Muhammadans there was, for 
a time, no king of the whole country, which was ruled by a 
number of petty independent chiefs. Amongst others, two 
brothers named Madan and Chandan are said to have ruled 
at Maralavas. This state of affairs continued for a few years 
and then the Koches under Biswa Singh made themselves 
masters of the country west of the Bar Nadi. 



•The war with the A horns is victory over the king of Kamata- 

dealt with separately further on. pur about 1460 A. D. (J. A. S. B., 

I have not referred to the tradi- 1874, page 216) as it is wholly un- 

tion of Ismail Ghazi's alleged corroborated. 



44 THE KOCH KINGS 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE KOCH KINGS. 

~2 C1 .,. At the present day the word Koch is a term of some 

affinities . r . 

of the ambiguity. In Assam Proper it has become the name of 

Koches. a Hindu caste, into which are received the converts to 
Hinduism from the ranks of the Kachari, Lalung, Mikir 
and other tribes, and, as the process of conversion is still 
continuing, the number of persons described as Koch is in- 
creasing rapidly. In North Bengal and Goalpara, on the 
other hand, it is a term which is falling into disrepute ; 
and it has, to a great extent, been abandoned in favour of the 
appellation Rajbansi. It is here generally regarded as 
indicative of race, that is to say, as the name of a tribe 
and not a caste, but the ethnic character of the people so 
called has been a matter of some controversy. The Koches 
are frequently referred to as Kuvacha in the Fur tins and 
Tantras, and the historian of Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji's 
invasion at the end of the twelfth century says that the 
features of u the Koch, Mech and Tharu tribes w resembled 
those of a tribe of Southern Siberia. That acute observer 
Bryan Hodgson classed the Koch with the Bodo and Dhimal, 
and the same view is taken by Buchanan and in the Dacca 
Blue Book. On the other hand, Colonel Dalton considered 
them to be Dravidian, and Mr. Risley, while admitting an 
intermixture with Mongoloid stock, holds that Dravidian 
characteristics predominate. This divergence of views seems 
to have arisen from the confusion caused by the use of the 
term Rajbansi, which originally referred to an entirely 
distinct community of Dravidian affinities, but was afterwards 
adopted by the Koches west of the Monas river, who, when 
they attorned to Hinduism, appropriated the caste name of the 
most numerous Hinduized community in their neighbourhood. 
So long as the Koch kings ruled, there was a considerable 



THE KOCH KINGS. 45 

intermingling of the two races in the country subject to their 
domination. There seems, however, to be no doubt that the 
true Koches were a Mongoloid race, very closely allied to the 
Meches and Garos ; and we find that in Jalpaiguri, Koch 
Bihar and Goalpara, the persons now known as Rajbansi are 
either pure Koches who, though dark, have a distinctly 
Mongoloid physiognomy, or else a mixed breed, in which the 
Mongoloid element usually preponderates. The Koch 
language is now practically extinct, but the traces of it which 
remain show that it was almost identical with Garo. 
Ralph Fitch, who visited the Koch kingdom in the 
sixteenth century, says : " The people have ears which be 
marvelous great, of a span long, which they draw out by 
devices when they be young." This practice, though since 
abandoned by the Koches, is still common amongst the Garos. 
In former times the Koches and Meches freely intermarried, 
but the conversion of the former to Hinduism has now caused 
the practice to be discontinued. East of the Monas, where 
there were no Rajbansis properly so-called, the Koches, 
as the dominant tribe, were admitted to Hinduism without 
any change of their tribal name, but members of other 
Mongoloid tribes who afterwards followed their example were 
allowed to do so only by sinking their old designation and 
joining the ranks of the already- Hinduized Koches.* 

There are numerous old manuscripts which contain some 
account of the Koch kings, but by far the most detailed 
narrative yet brought to light is that contained in the 
Bansdbali of the Darrang Rajas. This manuscript which 
ends abruptly with the death of Parikshit, belonged to the 
late Raja Lakshmi Narayan Kuar, who was the leading 
representative of the Darrang branch of the Koch royal 



* I have discussed this question mohan Eoy in the J. A. S. B. for 

more fully in the Assam Census 1903. Colonel Waddell's head 

Report for 1891, page 212, and in measurements fully establish the 

the Bengal Census Report for 1901, predominance of the Mongoloid 

page 382. There is an excellent type in the Koches of Assam, 
paper on the subject by Babu Mon- 



46 THE KOCH KINGS. 

family.* It is written in Sanskrit on oblong strips of bark, and 
is believed to have been compiled by a well-known Assamese 
writer in the year 1806. We have no means of tracing his 
sources of information ; and, although at that time the memory 
of the events narrated must have been much fresher than it 
is now, there is clear internal evidence of a certain disregard 
of facts and of wild exaggeration, so that it is impossible to 
rely on the narrative as fully as on the Buranjis of the 
Ahoms. In the following account an endeavour has been 
made to eliminate the less probable portions of the story, 
but it must be clearly borne in mind that absolute credence 
cannot be given to any statement which is not confirmed by 
the testimony of Ahom or Muhammadan writers. 
Bisva The progenitor of the Koch kings was a Mech or Koch- 

Singh, it is not certain which — named Haria Mandal, a resident of 
Chikangram, a village in the Khuntaghat pargana of the Goal- 
para district. He was the recognized head of twelve leading 
families of Meches (or Koches) living in the pargana.t He 
married, it is said, two sisters named Hira, and Jira, the 
daughters of one Haju, by whom he had two sons, namely, 
Bisu the son of Hira, and Sisu the son of Jira. They were 
born some years before the conquest of Kamata by the 
Muhammadans under Husain Shah. The latter did not 
retain a permanent hold on the country, and the people, left to 
themselves, split up into numerous petty principalities, each 
under its own chief. Bisu was a man of unusual enterprise 
and courage, and he soon forced his way to the front. He 
defeated the chiefs, or Bhuiyas, of Uguri and Luki, but was 
repulsed by Charu Bhuiya. Nothing daunted, he renewed 
his attack, at a time when the Bhuiya 's soldiers had dispersed 
for a festival, and killed him and the few followers that 
remained with him. Following up this success, he subdued 

*An analysis of the contents of Kathia, Guftbar, Megha, Baisftgu, 

this Bansdbali was given by me Jagai, Gurikata, Jugbar and 

in the J . A. S. B., Vol. LXII. Dakharu. These are, for the 

f Their names are Pinbar, most part, common Bodo names, 
PJiedela, Phedphedo, Barihana, 



THE KOCH KINGS. 47 

the chiefs of Phulguri, Bijni and other places, and gradually 
extended his rule as far as the Karatoya in the west and 
the Bar Nadi in the east. He rose to power about 1515 A.D. 

As usual in such cases, the Brahmans soon sought him His con- 
out. They discovered that his tribesmen were Kshatriyas ^S 0I j 
who had thrown away their sacred threads when fleeing 
before the wrath of Parasuram, the son of the Brahman 
ascetic Jamadagni, while Bisu himself was declared to be the 
son, not of the humble Haria Mandal, but of the God 
Siva who, assuming Haria's form, had had intercourse with 
his wife Hira, herself an incarnation of Siva's wife Parbati. 
Bisu assumed the name of Bisva Singh, and his brother Sisu 
became Sib Singh, while many of his followers discarded their 
old tribal designation and called themselves Rajbansis. 

Bisva Singh now became a great patron of Hinduism. 
He worshipped Siva and Durga, and gave gifts to the disciples 
of Vishnu and also to the priests and astrologers. He 
revived the worship of Kamakhya, rebuilt her temple on 
the Nilachal hill near Gauhati, and imported numerous 
Brahmans from Kanauj, Benares and other centres of learn- 
ing. 

He moved his capital from Chikangram to Koch Bihar Organiza- 
where he built a fine city. He made his brother Sisu, or Sib Jw^w" 
Singh, Jubraj, and appointed twelve ministers of State from 
the twelve chief families of the Meches. He took a census 
of his subjects. He is said to have found that the number 
of ablebodied men capable of bearing arms was 5,225,000, 
but this is clearly an exaggeration. He divided off the 
people under various officers, viz., Thakuria* over 20 
men, Saikias over 100, Hazdris over 1,000, Vmras over 
3,000 and Nawdbs over 60,000. He is said to have 
possessed a large number of elephants, horses, asses, buffaloes 
and camels. He married a number of wives by whom he 
had eighteen sons, including Malla Deb, Sukladhvaj, Nar 
Singh and Gosain Kamal. 

Bisva Singh came into contact with the Ahoms, but the Relations 
accounts differ as to what happened. According to the ™* b 



48 THE KOCH KINGS. 

chronicles of the Koch kings, he undertook an invasion of 
Ahom territory, but had to retreat owing to the hardships 
experienced during the journey and the great difficulty of 
obtaining supplies. The Ahom chroniclers merely relate that 
in 1537 he paid a friendly visit to the Ahom king Suhung- 
mung and exchanged presents with him. 
Death. Bisva Singh died about 1540. During his reign there 

were hostilities more than once between the Ahoms and 
the Muhammadans, who advanced up the Brahmaputra as 
far as Koliabar, and who, when finally defeated in 1532, were 
pursued by the Ahoms as far as the Karatoya, but there 
is no reference to the subject in the records of Koch rule. 
The explanation may be that Bisva Singh's capital in 
Koch Bihar was far removed from the route taken by the 
Muhammadans and that, although he had defeated the local 
chiefs on both sides of the Brahmaputra as far east as the 
Bar Nadi, he had not at that time consolidated his rule 
and brought that part of the country under his direct 
administration. Or it may be that, not feeling strong enough 
to take his part in the war, he made no attempt to prevent the 
combatants from passing through his territory so long as they 
left him unmolested. 
Nar Nar&- At the time of Bisva Singh's death, his two eldest sons, 
y an * Malla Deb and Sukladhvaj, were away at Benares, whither 

they had been sent to study under a learned Brahman, 
and their brother Nar Singh, taking advantage of their 
absence, proclaimed himself king. As soon as the news 
reached them, Malla Deb and Sukladhvaj hastened home 
and, raising an army, defeated Nar Sing. He fled to 
Morang, the submontane tract west of Koch Bihar. On 
the Raja of that country refusing to give him up, his 
brothers marched against him and defeated him, whereupon 
Nar Singh fled again, first to Nepal and then to Kashmir. 
There are still in Koch Bihar some people called Morangia 
who have a tradition that they were made over to Nar 
Narayan by the Raja of the Morang country. 

It is said that Nar Singh subsequently became ruler 



THE KOCH KINGS, 49 

of Bhutan, and, although there is no confirmation of this 
statement, the occurrence is not altogether impossible. It 
has already been mentioned that in ancient times Bhutan 
seems, occasionally at least, to have formed part of the kingdom 
of Kamarupa. The historian of Mir Jumlah's invasion 
in the middle of the seventeenth century says that the people 
of that country then spoke a dialect allied to that of the 
Koches. And in his Keport on his mission to Bhutan, the 
late Sir Ashley Eden said : " Apparently the Bhutias have not 
possessed Bhutan for more than two centuries ; it formerly 
belonged to a tribe called by the Bhutias Tephu ; they are 
generally believed to have been people of Koch Bihar. The 
Tephu were driven down into the plains by some Tibetan 
soldiers, who had been sent from Lhassa to look at the 
country."* 

After expelling Nar Singh, Malla Deb ascended the 
throne and assumed the name Nar Narayan. f He appointed his 
brother Sukladhvaj to be his Commander-in-Chief. In this 
capacity Sukladhvaj displayed such dash and rapidity of 
movement that he was nicknamed Silarai, or the Kite king. 

Nar Narayan soon came into conflict with the Ahoms. War with 
The cause of the quarrel is uncertain. According to one^koms. 
authority, the Ahom king Suklenmung was the aggressor. A 
petty chief, or Bhuiya, conspired, it is said, against Nar 
Narayan and, on detection, fled to Suklenmung, who gave him 
shelter and made an unsuccessful attack on the Koch king. 
However that may be, in 1546 an expedition under Sukladhvaj 
ascended the north bank of the Brahmaputra as far as the 
Dikrai river, where a battle took place. The Koches, who 
were armed with bows and arrows, succeeded in killing some 

^Political Missions to Bhutan, In Blochmann's paper on Koch Bihar 

p. 108. The first syllable of Tephu and Assam he is called Bal Gosain, 

may perhaps be the Bodo Ti or Di but the proper reading should be 

meaning water, which occurs also Mai Gosain, as in Dowson's Elliot's 

in "Dimasa," the tribal designa- History of India, Vol. VI, p. 591. 

tion of the Bodos of North Cachar. Malku Sain on p. 331 of Blochmann's 

t In some of the old religious translation of the Ain (Vol. I) is 

writings he is called Malla Narayan. clearly meant for Mai Gosain. 



50 THE KOCH KINGS. 

of the Ahom leaders, whereupon the common soldiers fled and 
were pursued with great slaughter. A less decisive action 
was fought soon afterwards at Koliabar, on the opposite side 
of the Brahmaputra. The Ahoms subsequently took up a 
position at Sala, but were attacked by the Koches and 
defeated with great loss. 
Construe- In the course of these operations, the Koches constructed 
p 0n _. an embanked road the whole way from their capital in Koch 
Kamala Bihar to Narayanpur, in the south-west of what is now the 
Ah. North Lakhimpur subdivision, a distance of some 350 miles. 

The work was carried out under the supervision of Gosain 
Kamal, the king's brother ; parts of it are still in existence 
and are known to this day as w Gosain Kamal's road." 
The This great undertaking was completed in 1547 and the 

oc es K oc hes then erected a fort at Narayanpur. Suklenmung 
defeated, struck in behind them and entrenched himself on the bank 
of the Pichala river. He thus cut off their supplies and 
forced them to assume the offensive. The result was a 
disastrous defeat for the Koches. Many were slain in the 
assault and a large number of fugitives were subsequently 
surrounded and killed. 
But renew This decisive defeat led to a cessation of hostilities for some 
d War y ears ; but in 1562 a fresh attempt was made by Nar Narayan 
gain the to overcome his powerful rival. According to one of the 
victory. Ahom Buranjis this war arose out of a dispute in connection 
with Nar Narayan's invasion of the Kachari country, referred 
to below, in the course of which he is said to have devastated 
some villages inside the Ahom frontier. A force was sent up 
the Brahmaputra in boats as far as the mouth of the Dikhu, 
where an engagement took place in which the Ahoms appear 
to have been worsted. In the 'following January the redoubt- 
able Silarai himself took the field with a large force and, in a 
second engagement near the Dikhu, inflicted an over- 
whelming defeat on the Ahoms. Their king and his 
chief nobles fled to Charaikharang in Namrup, and the 
Koches entered their capital, Garghaon, in triumph. 
Some months later the Ahom Raja sued for terms and 



THE KOCH KINGS. 51 

peace was concluded on the following conditions, viz., the 
acknowledgment of the Koch suzerainty, the delivery of 
a number of sons of the chief nobles as hostages, and the 
payment of an indemnity, consisting of sixty elephants, sixty 
pieces of cloth and a quantity of gold and silver. 

The Ahoms were not the only nation defeated by Nar War with 
Narayan. He sent an expedition against the Kacharis, who Kaeharis. 
were easily overcome. Their king, it is said, made his 
submission and, in addition to giving eighty-four elephants 
and other presents, agreed to pay an annual tribute of seventy 
thousand rupees, one thousand gold mohars and sixty 
elephants. 

Messengers were sent to the Raja of Manipur calling on Submis- 
him to submit and pay tribute, and the Raja, feeling himself "° ^. of 
too weak to oppose so powerful a prince, at once complied Kaja. 
with the requisition. His tribute was fixed at twenty 
thousand rupees, three hundred gold mohars and ten elephants. 

The kingdom of Jaintia was next attacked and, in the battle Victories 
that followed, the Raja was killed by Silaraiwith his own ff,. 
hand. His son was placed on the throne after promising to Tippera 
pay regular tribute. It is said that one of the conditions im- ? n ?i^ yl " 
posed on him was that he should not in future strike coins in his 
own name. This story receives some confirmation from the 
fact that, until the year 17 31, no king of Jaintia appears to have 
recorded his name on the coins minted by him ; on all known 
coins of earlier date, as on most of the later ones also, the 
words " ruler of Jaintia " are used instead of the Raja's name. 

Silarai, it is said, then proceeded to wage war against the 
Raja of Tippera, who was vanquished and put to death. His 
son was set up in his place and undertook to pay tribute to 
the extent of ten thousand rupees, one hundred gold mohars 
and thirty horses. There is no mention of this war in the 
Tippera chronicles, and the only corroboration of the Koch 
Bansabali is found in an Assamese Buranji of uncertain date. 
This is not sufficient to establish it as an historical fact. 

The Sylhet king, it is alleged, was also defeated and slain, 
and his brother Asurai, who was nominated to succeed him, 

e2 



52 THE KOCH KINGS. 

was fain to promise a tribute of a hundred elephants, two 
hundred horses, three lakhs of rupees and ten thousand gold 
mohars. This campaign, like the preceding one, lacks con- 
firmation, and it is not quite clear what part of Sylhet is 
referred to. The open country in the centre of the district 
was conquered by the Muhammadans at the end of the four- 
teenth century, but it may have been temporarily independent 
at this period which was a troublous one in Bengal. 
Submis- Viryavanta, the chief of Khairam, seeing the fate of the 

B J°. n of surrounding Rajas, is said to have voluntarily made his submis- 
Khairam s i° n « His tribute was fixed at fifteen thousand rupees, nine 
a» d hundred gold mohars, fifty horses and thirty elephants. It 

was also stipulated that he should in future put the name of 
Nar Narayan on his coins, the sign of a mace being added to 
distinguish them from those of the Koch king's own mint. 
No specimens of these coins are now forthcoming. As there 
are some grounds for believing that Nar Narayan defeated 
the Kacharis and Jaintias, there seems no reason to doubt 
that he obtained the voluntary submission of the chief of 
Khairam, who was less powerful, and whose country was 
equally accessible. 

According to some accounts, Panthesvar, the Raja of 
Dimarua, was another victim of Nar Narayan's invincible 
general, but others say that he was formerly a tributary 
of the Kacharis who sought and obtained Nar Narayan's 
protection from their oppression, and was established by 
him as warden of the marches in the direction of Jaintia. 
War with So far Nar Narayan had been everywhere successful. 
Pasha of j$ u £ £{. was now kjg £ urn ^ s UC cumb to a stronger enemy 
than any he had yet encountered. This was the Pasha of 
Gaur. There is very little authentic information about the 
war, but according to the chronicles of the Koch kings, 
Nar Narayan was the aggressor. His army under Silarai 
was defeated, and the latter himself was taken prisoner. 
The Muhammadans ascended the Brahmaputra as far as 
Tezpur, but they made no attempt to take permanent 
possession of the country, and returned to Bengal after 



THE KOCH KINGS. 53 

demolishing the temples at Kamakhya, Hajo and other 
places. All local traditions point to the redoubtable Brahman 
renegade and iconoclast, Kala Pahar, as the leader of 
the Muhammadan army, and his name is so widely known 
in Assam as the destroyer of Hindu images and temples 
that it seems barely possible that there can be any mistake. 
Kala Pahar was the general of Sulaiman Kararani, who 
ruled in Bengal from 1563 to 1572 A.D., and the invasion 
referred to in the local traditions is doubtless the same 
as that mentioned in the Riyaz-us- Set latin.* According 
to this authority, Sulaiman Kararani set out for the conquest 
of the Koch kingdom in 1568 A.D. He had subjugated 
the outlying parts and was besieging the capital when he 
heard of an insurrection in Orissa, and so abandoned the 
siege. It is said in the local Buranjis that Silarai was 
taken prisoner to Gaur. He was kept in captivity for some 
time, but, having gained the favour of the Pasha's wife, 
he eventually obtained his freedom and returned home. 
According to one account he married the Pasha's daughter, 
and received as her dowry the parganas of Bahirband, 
Bhitarband, Gayabari, Sherpur and Daskaunia, i.e., the 
riparian portions of Rangpur and North Mymensingh. 

Nar Narayan now became anxious for a good under- Release 
standing with the Ahoms. He accordingly determined of Ahom 
to release Sundar Gohain and the other hostages taken os age " 
from them in 1562. In order to conceal his real motive 
he resorted to the device of playing at dice with Sundar 
Gohain. After losing heavily, he staked the release of 
the hostages on the result of the next throw, which he 
also lost, and thereupon sent them back with numerous 
presents and a friendly letter to the Ahom monarch. 

Some years afterwards it is narrated that Nar Narayan *. , 
assisted Akbar in his attack on the " Pasha of Gaur." Silarai hostilities 
invaded his kingdom from the east, while the Imperial army JJ lfc ^ tn ® 
advanced upon him from the west. The Pasha was easily Gaur. 

* Abdus Salam's translation, page 151. 



54 THE KOCH KINGS. 

defeated and his kingdom was divided between the Koch 
king and the Emperor of Delhi. This is the story told in the 
local Bansabalis, but no mention is made of any assistance 
from the Koches in the Musalman accounts of the defeat of 
Daud by Khan Jahan in 1576 A.D., to which the story 
appears to refer. 

In 1578, according to the Ain-i-Ahbari, Nar Narayan 
u renewed his demonstration of obedience to the Imperial 
throne " and sent 54 elephants and other valuable presents to 
Akbar. 
Silarai'g In the course of the second expedition against the 

death and Muhammadans, Silarai was attacked by small-pox and died 
berment on the banks of the Ganges. He left a son, named Raghu 
of Koch Deb, whom he commended to his brother's care. From the 
time of Silarai's death there were, it is said, no more wars, 
and the prosperity of the people grew apace. In the Ahom 
Buranjis, however, a rebellion is said to have occurred in 
1577, headed by three men named Bar Dado, Gabha Naik 
and Bar Katu. They were defeated and fled with 14,000 of 
their followers to Ahom territory, and were given refuge 
and settled at Gajala. According to the AMarndmak, Nar 
Narayan lived the life of an ascetic and did not marry till 
late in life. He at last did so, on the urgent representations of 
his brother Silarai, and in due course he had a son. After 
Silarai's death, the latter's son Raghu Deb, who had pre- 
viously been regarded as the heir to the throne, began to 
fear lest he should be ousted from the succession. His 
disaffection was fanned by some of his father's old followers ; 
and at last, under the pretence of making a journey, he 
collected his family and all his adherents and proceeded to 
Barnagar on the Monas river, near which he erected a fort 
which he called Ghilajaypur. The site is now covered with 
forest growth, but numerous fruit trees and tanks are still 
to be seen there.* Nar Narayan sent men to recall him, but 

* After the overthrow of the Koch was killed by the Burmese after, it is 
kings an Ahom official called the said, throwing his treasure into a 
Barnagaria Barua lived there. He small tank which is now silted up. 



THE KOCH KINGS. 55 

he refused to return. At last, rather than go to war with 
his own nephew, the peace-loving monarch agreed to divide the 
kingdom, keeping the portion west of the Sankosh for himself 
and his successors, and giving up to Raghu Deb the tract east 
of that river ; on his side Raghu agreed to pay tribute and to 
acknowledge his uncle as his overlord. This was in 1581 A.D. 
Muhammadan writers refer to the two kingdoms as Koch 
Bihar and Koch Hajo respectively ; the former name of course 
still survives, but the only trace of the latter is in the town 
called Hajo, a few miles north of Gauhati. 

Soon afterwards a quarrel broke out, but the accounts vary, 
both as to the cause of it, and as to the manner in which 
it was settled. According to some, Raghu made a raid on 
certain villages in his uncle's territory, while others allege 
that his failure to pay the tribute which he had agreed to 
give was the cause of the dispute. It is said by some 
that a battle was fought in which Raghu was defeated, 
and by others, that he submitted without hazarding an 
engagement, on seeing the strength of the army sent against 
him. 

Nar Narayan died in 1584 after a reign of nearly 50 Nar 
years. In his time the power of the Koch kings reached its Narayan' 8 
zenith, but this was due to the energy and skill of his brother Character. 
Silarai, rather than to any efforts of his own. He was 
a man of a mild and studious disposition, and seems to 
have been more addicted to religious exercises and conver- 
sation with learned men than to the conduct of State 
affairs. In all questions of politics Silarai seems to have 
possessed an overwhelming influence ; and he was the 
moving spirit in every adventure. As soon as he died, 
the din of warlike preparations ceased and peace reigned in 
the land. 

Nar Narayan greatly encouraged religion. He rebuilt the Rebuild- 
temple of Kamakhya which the Muhammadans had destroyed, *?S °* 
and imported learned Brahmans from Bengal to conduct the temple, 
religious ceremonies. The temple contaius two stone figures, 
which are said to be representations of Nar Narayan (or 



56 THE KOCH KINGS. 

Malla Deb) and his brother Silarai or Sukladhvaj. It also 
contains the following inscription :— 

Glory to the king Malla Deb, who by virtue of his 
mercy, is kind to the people, who in archery is like 
Arjun, and in charity like Dadhichi and Kama ; he 
is like an ocean of all goodness, and he is versed in 
many sastras ; his character is excellent, in beauty 
he is as bright as Kandarpa, he is a worshipper of 
Kamakhya. His younger brother Sukladeb built 
this temple of bright stones on the Nila hillock, for 
the worship of the goddess Durga, in 1487 Saka 
(1565 A.D.). His beloved brother Sukladhvaj 
again, with universal fame, the crown of the great- 
est heroes, who, like the fabulous Kalpataru, gave 
all that was devoutly asked of him, the chief of all 
devotees of the goddess, constructed this beautiful 
temple with heaps of stones on the Nila hill in 
1487 Sak. 
Tantrik At m ^ s ^ me Saktism was the predominant form of 

Hinduism. Hinduism in this part of India. Its adherents base their 
observances on the Tantras, a series of religious works in 
which the various ceremonies, prayers and incantations are 
prescribed in a dialogue between Siva and his wife Parbati. 
The fundamental idea is the worship of the female principle, 
the procreative power of nature as manifested by personified 
desire. It is a religion of bloody sacrifices from which even 
human beings were not exempt. In the Kalika Purdn it 
is stated that a man without blemish is the most acceptable 
sacrifice that can be offered, and the manner in which the 
victim is to be dealt with is laid down in great detail. 
When the new temple of Kamakhya was opened, the 
occasion was celebrated by the immolation of no less than 
a hundred and forty men, whose heads were offered to the 
Goddess on salvers made of copper. According to the Haft 
Tqlim there was in Kamarupa a class of persons called 
Bhogis, who were voluntary victims ; from the time when 
tney announced that the Goddess had called them, they 



THE KOCH KINGS. 57 

were treated as privileged persons; they were allowed to 
do whatever they liked, and every woman was at their com- 
mand ; but when the annual festival came round they were 
killed. Magic also held an important place in the estimation 
of this sect, and in the Ain-i-Akbari the people were accused, 
among other practices, of divination by the examination of a 
child cut out of the body of " a pregnant woman who has 
gone her full term of months." The religious ceremonies 
of the sect were equally abominable, and they were often 
associated with licentious orgies too disgusting to be even 
hinted at. 

It was impossible that such a horrible and grotesque The 

caricature of religion, which seems to have been evolved from "Vaishnava 
a i o • « i i i „ . , , , .« , . . _ revival ot 

the grafting of a degraded Hinduism on the tribal practices of Sankar 

the aborigines, would be allowed to continue indefinitely, and Deb. 
Nar Narayan's reign is remarkable for the Vaishnava reform- 
ation inaugurated by Sankar Deb, a Kayasth of Batadroba 
in Nowgong. He is said to have been born in 1449 and to 
have died in 1569. The latter date is probably correct, so 
the former must be about thirty or forty years too early. He 
preached a purified Vishnuism and inculcated the doctrine of 
salvation by faith and prayer rather than by sacrifices. He 
at first attempted to propagate his views in Ahom territory, 
but he was subjected to so much persecution, owing to the 
enmity of the Brahmans who had the king's ear, that he 
went to Barpeta, where, under the mild and just rule of Nar 
Narayan, he proclaimed the new faith far and wide. The 
king himself is alleged to have had many interviews with 
him ; and some say that he even wished to become his disciple, 
but that the great reformer refused this honour. It is said 
by some that Nar Narayan married his niece Kamala Priya, 
but others aver that it was Silarai who did so. 

Sankar Deb had appointed as his successor another Origin of 
Kayasth named Madhab Deb, but, on his death, this nomina- var . iou s 
tion was not universally accepted, and several of his Brahman Gosains. 
disciples seceded and formed separate sects of their own. The 
chief of these rt Bamunia Gosains ;; were Deb Damodar, Hari 



58 THE KOCH KINGS. 

Deb and Gopal Deb, who founded numerous sattras, or reli- 
gious centres. The most important are those at Auniati, 
Dakhinpat, Garumur and Kurua Bahi on the Majuli. The 
main difference between their tenets and those held by Madhab 
Deb and his followers is that the former pay more attention 
to the distinctions of caste, and are not so uncompromising 
in their hostility to sacrifices and idols. Amongst his own 
followers, Madhab attained even a greater repute than the 
founder of the sect ; he was himself more of an ascetic 
than the latter, but he permitted greater laxity to his followers, 
who are known as Mahapurushias and still regard Barpeta as 
their head- quarters. The Bamunia Gosains had one Sudra 
rival in Upper Assam in the person of Anirodh, a Kalita by 
caste. This man quarrelled with Sankar Deb and, leaving 
him, founded the Moamaria sect, the adherents of which were 
destined to play an important part in the overthrow of Ahom 
rule. They were mainly persons of low social rank, such as 
Doms, Morans, Kacharis, Haris and Chutiyas, and, as they 
denied the supremacy of the Brahmans, they were naturally 
the special aversion of the orthodox Hindu hierarchy. Their 
designation is said to be a nickname given to the original 
disciples of Anirodh, who lived near a lake, where they caught 
large numbers of the fish called c ' Moa." It may also perhaps 
be connected with the circumstance that Anirodh is reputed to 
have owned a celebrated book on magic or Maya. 
Preva- It must not be imagined from the foregoing account of 

lence of Hinduism that it had become the universal religion in the 
beliefs. Brahmaputra valley. This was by no means the case ; and the 
great mass of the Kachari, Rabha, Lalung and other aboriginal 
tribes still held to their old tribal beliefs, just as do some of 
them even to the present day. No pressure was put upon them 
to change their creed ; and it is recorded that Nar Narayan 
issued an edict setting aside the tract north of the Gosain 
Kamala Ali for the practice of aboriginal forms of worship. 
Before starting on his expedition against the Ahoms he 
made special arrangements for the performance by his Kachari 
soldiers of their tribal rites on the banks of the Sankosh river. 



THE KOCH KINGS. 59 

Nar Narayan was a great patron of learning, and some En- 

of the best-known Assamese writings Idate from his reign, courage- 

. , ment 01 

Many Vaishnava hymns and homilies were written by feankar learning. 

Deb and Madhab Deb ; Purushottam Bidyabagish compiled 
a grammar; and Ananta Kandali translated the Bhagavat 
and other books into Assamese. 

Nar Narayan executed many useful public works. The Construc- 
construction of the Kamala AH has already been mentioned, tion of 
He made many other roads, and planted trees along them. 
He also erected several temples and caused numerous tanks to 
be dug. There is a tradition that he straightened the 
Brahmaputra near Pandunath, where it had previously run a 
very circuitous course. In 1636 the branch of that river which 
formerly flowed past Hajo is said by contemporary Muham- 
madan writers to have dried up, and we may perhaps conjec- 
ture that this was in consequence of the gradual enlargement 
of the channel cut by this king more than half a century 
before. Nar Narayan had a mint, and coins bearing his name, 
dated 1477 Sak (1555 A.D.) are still in existence.* 

Ralph Pitch visited the country during this reign and English 
gives the following account of it :— traveller s 

I went from Bengala into the country of Couch (Koch) the couri- 
er Quichen which lies 25 days' journey northwards tr y« 
from Tanda. The king is a Gentile (Hindu) ; his 
name is Suckel Counse (Sukla Koch or Sukladhvaj) ; 
his country is great and lieth not far from Cauchin 
China ; for they say they have pepper from thence. 
The port is called Cacchegate (Chichakot). All the 
country is set with bamboos or canes made sharp at 
both ends and driven into the earth, and they can 
let in the water and drown the ground above knee- 
deep, so that men nor horses can pass. They poison 
all the waters if any wars be. Here they have much 
silk and musk, and cloth made of cotton. The 
people have ears which be marvelous great, of a span 
long, which they draw out in length by devices 

See my Note on some Coins Asiatic Society of Bengal for 1895, 
of the Koch Kings, Journal of the Part I. 



60 THE KOCH KINGS. 

while they be young. There they be all Gentiles, 
and they will kill nothing. They have hospitals for 
sheep, goats, dogs, cats, birds and for all living 
creatures. When they be old and lame they keep 
them until they die. If a man catch or buy any 
quick thing in other places and bring it thither, 
they will give him money for it or other victuals 
and keep it in their hospitals or let it go. They will 
give meat to the ants. Their small money is 
almonds, which often times they use to eat. 
The statement that Sukladhvaj was the Raja probably 
shows merely the extent to which the real power vested in him. 
There is, however, a tradition that, owing to the alleged 
discovery by his astrologers that he was under the influence 
of Saturn, Nar Narayan placed the conduct of affairs entirely 
in his brother's hands for a whole year and wandered about 
in disguise, and it may be that Ralph Fitch visited the 
country at this juncture. The story is not intrinsically im- 
probable and it has a counterpart in Ahom history in the 
case of Raja Sib Singh, who endeavoured to avert a similar 
omen by installing his Ranis in turn as the nominal rulers of 
his kingdom. 

It is difficult to explain the statements made by thi s 
traveller regarding the great tenderness shown by the people 
for animal life. It is far from being one of their peculiarities 
at the present day, and it may be presumed that the state 
of things described was due solely to the personal action of 
Nar Narayan himself, who was, as we have already seen, 
open to all sorts of religious influences, and may well have 
been induced by some Buddhist or Vaishnava ascetic to open 
hospitals for animals and to inculcate the principles here 
referred to. 
Raghu We have seen that Eaghu Deb was given the portion of 

Nar Narayan' s kingdom that lay east of the Sankosh river. 
He thus ruled the country now. included in the Mangaldai 
subdivision and the districts of Kamrup and Goalpara; his 
dominions stretched southwards from the Goalpara boundary* 
and included the country between the old course of the 



Deb 



THE KOCH KINGS. 61 

Brahmaputra and the Garo hills which now forms the eastern 
part of Mymensingh. 

This latter tract may have been acquired at the time of War with 
Daud's defeat by Khan Jahan, but, in any case, Raghu was sa Khan - 
not destined to hold it long. An Afghan named Isa Khan, 
the Bhuiya of Khizrpur, near Narayanganj in Dacca, was 
already a powerful chief in the time of Daud. "When the 
latter was overthrown by Khan Jahan, he became the leader of 
the Afghans throughout the eastern part of Bengal, and at one 
time he ruled the whole country from Ghoraghat to the 
sea. He was defeated by Shahbaz Khan in 1583 and fled 
by ship to Chittagong. He there collected a body of troops, 
and, with their aid, he proceeded to carve out for himself a 
new kingdom. Encouraged, no doubt, by the dismemberment 
of the Koch dominions, he selected for his first operations the 
southern outlying portion of the tract assigned by Nar 
Narayan to his rebellious nephew. Raghu endeavoured to 
resist the invaders in person, and occupied a fort where the 
village of Jangalbari in Mymensingh now stands. It was 
surrounded by a moat, but the defenders were not able to 
hold it against the vigorous onslaught of Isa Khan and his 
men. Raghu himself escaped while the assault was in 
progress, by a tunnel, which is still shown. Following up 
his victory Isa, Khan took from the Koches the whole country 
as far as Rangamati in the Goalpara district. This invasion 
is not referred to in any of the local Bamabalis, but it is 
mentioned by several Muhammadan writers.* 

Raghu Deb rebuilt the Manikut or Hayagrib temple Rebuild- 
at Ha jo, which had been destroyed by Kala, Pahar, and in S of 
endowed it with grants of land. When it was completed, H5k>. 
it was consecrated by the sacrifice of numerous human 

*Cf. Wise, On the Bdrah Bhuiy* In Muhammadan times Sarkdr 

as of Eastern Bengal (J. A. S. Ghoraghat was the northern fron- 

B., 1874, p. 213), and Blochmann's tier district skirting Koch Bihar, 

translation of the Ain y p. 343. Isa and comprising portions of the 

Khan was brought under subjec- modern districts of Dinajpur, Rang- 

tion to Akbar when Raja Man Singh pur and Bogra. 
was Governor of Bengal. 



62 THE KOCH KINGS. 

victims. The following inscription is to be seen inside this 
temple :— 

" There was a ruler of the earth named Bisva Singh ; 
his illustrious son, the most wise king Malla Deb, 
was the conqueror of all enemies. In gravity and 
liberality and for heroism he had a great reputation, 
and he was purified by religious deeds. After him 
was born his brother Sukladhvaj, who subdued 
many countries. The son of this Sukladhvaj was 
king Raghu Deb, who was like the greatest man of 
the Raghu race : his glories spread out in all direc- 
tions; the lord of Kamarupa, in obedience to the 
order of destiny, is the slayer of the wicked, who 
was like water to the flames of the fire of sorrow of 
the vast populace. Of the seed of Sukladhvaj, a 
king was born of the name of Raghu Deb, who con- 
soles innumerable persons and is a worshipper of the 
feet of Krishna; the king coming of age had a 
temple built on the hillock called Mani hillock in 
1505 Sak (1583 A.D.). The most skilled and 
efficient artisan Sridhar himself built it." 
Raghu' s On Nar Narayan's death, his son Lakshmi Narayan 

son rebels. ascen( j e( j j^q throne of the western Koch kingdom, which 
included Koch Bihar and parts of Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and 
Rangpur. Raghu Deb now declared himself independent. 
He struck coins in his own name,* and refused to continue 
to pay tribute. Lakshmi Narayan was not in a position 
to force him to submit, and so resorted to underhand 
means. At his instigation Raghu's son Parikshit rebelled 
against him, but the rising was unsuccessful. Parikshit was 
thrown into prison and his confederates were hanged. 
After a time he escaped and fled to Lakshmi Narayan 
who received him cordially. 
Raghu's Raghu Deb died, either from snake-bite or of poison 

death. administered by the mother of his second son, Indra 
Narayan, about 1593. 
* The only extant coin of Raghu Deb is dated 1510 Sak or 1588 A.D. 



THE KOCH KINGS. 63 

On his death, the mother of Indra Narayan endeavoured Parikshit,. 
to place her son on the throne, but the chief ministers objected 
and sent word to Parikshit, who lost no time in hasten- 
ing to the capital and assuming the sovereignty. His 
first act was to order the execution of his brother Indra 
Narayan. Man Singh, the latter's uterine brother, fled to 
Ahom territory, where he was given protection and an 
honourable position. 

Like his father, Parikshit refused to acknowledge the Quarrel 
supremacy of Lakshmi Narayan. There is said to have been 7*?*, . 
a short war between the two countries in which Lakshmi Narayan. 
Narayan was worsted. Both kings sought the friendship 
of the Ahoms. Lakshmi Narayan had already, in 1585, 
given his daughter Sankala in marriage to the Ahom king 
Sukhampha, and in 1608, Parikshit gave his daughter 
Mangal Dahi to Pratap Singh, The Ahoms, however, were 
involved in wars with the Kacharis and abstained from all 
interference in Koch affairs. 

Lakshmi Narayan therefore turned his attention to the 
Muhammadans, and, in 1596, he declared himself a vassal 
of the Mughal Empire. In the JJcbarndmah it is said 
of him that he (i has 4,000 horse and 200,000 foot, 700 
elephants and 1,000 ships. His country is 200 Icos long 
and from 100 to 40 kos broad, extending in the east 
to the Brahmaputra, in the north to Tibet, in the south to 
Ghoraghat and in the west to Tirhut. " In 1597 he gave a 
daughter in marriage to Kaja Man Singh, at that time 
the governor of Bengal, and soon afterwards, the latter 
sent a detachment into Koch Bihar to protect him, but 
the quarter from which an attack was threatened is not 
stated. 

The friction between the cousins continued to increase, and The 
at last, in 1612, Lakshmi Narayan went in person to Dacca Muham- 
and begged the Nawab to intervene. At the same time a intervene, 
zamindar of Shushang, near Karaibari, complained of 
Parikshit's treatment of him. The Nawab, Shekh Alauddin 
Fathpuri Islam Khan, was glad of the opportunity to humble 



64 THE KOCH KINGS. 

a Raja who had always prided himself on his independence, 
and despatched Mukarram Khan to invade Koch Hajo with 
6,000 horse, 10,000 to 12,000 foot and 500 ships.* The 
vanguard was commanded by Kamal Khan who marched 
quickly but cautiously to Hatsilah in the Karaibari pargana, 
fortifying his encampments with bamboo palisades, accord- 
ing to the custom in that part of the country. He then ad- 
vanced and laid siege to Dhubri, where Parikshit had erected 
a fort which he held with a garrison of 500 horse and 10,000 
foot. The fort was taken after a month's bombardment and 
many of the defenders were killed. Parikshit thereupon 
sent an envoy to sue for peace, and at the same time gave 
an indemnity of 100 elephants, 100 ponies and 20 maunds 
of lignum aloes. The governor of Bengal was informed 
of this, but sent back word that Parikshit must make 
his submission in person and cede .the whole of his 
country, 

Parikshit now asked the Ahoms to come to his assistance. 
They consented, on condition that he sent all his available 
forces to join the Ahom army, but he was unwilling to 
do this, and elected to carry on the contest alone. The 
Muhammadans waited at Dhubri until the close of the 
rains, when a sudden attack was made on them by Parikshit 
with 20 elephants, 400 horses and 10,000 men. This was 
repulsed, though with some difficulty, and Parikshit retreated 
in disorder. His fleet was soon afterwards engaged and 
defeated on the Sankosh river. 
Capture At this juncture Lakshmi Narayan appeared on the scene 

* nd and threatened his flank. Parikshit thereupon retreated to his 

Parikshit. capital at Barnagar on the Monas. The Muhammadans 
followed him, and at last compelled him to surrender with 
his elephants and other possessions. He was taken to Dacca, 
whence he was sent, under the Mughal Emperor's orders, to 
Delhi. According to local accounts, Jahangir agreed to 
restore him to his kingdom, on his undertaking to pay a sum 

* The account of this invasion is namah (apud Blochmann, J.A.S.B., 
taken mainly from the Padishah' 1872, pp. 53 ff.). 



THE KOCH KINGS. 65 

of four lakhs of rupees, and he actually started to return but 
fell ill and died on the journey. 

His dominions, as far as the Bar Nadi, were annexed to Annexa-^ 
the Delhi empire and Mukarram Khan's brother was left in ^g^om. 8 
command of the Mughal garrison, which was at first stationed 
at Khelah. On his death in 1616, Mukarram Khan himself 
was appointed governor, and moved the head-quarters to 
Hajo. Several Muhammadan notables were given estates 
in the conquered country, and 10,000 to 12,000 paiks, or 
soldiers armed with shields and swords, were sent up 
from Bengal and provided with land in return for military 
service. 

Parikshit's brother, Bali Narayan, fled to the Ahom king Bali 
Pratap Singh who gave him shelter. This, with other grounds ar y 
of offence, led to the invasion of the Ahom country by Aba 
Bakr, which will be described further on. The invasion ended 
in the annihilation of the Mughal army. Bali Narayan 
was installed by the Ahoms as tributary Raja of Darrang, and 
was renamed Dharma Narayan. In 1617 the Ahoms, accom- 
panied by Bali Narayan, advanced to Hajo, but were even- 
tually driven back with heavy loss. The war was renewed in 
1619 when the Musalmans besieged Bali Narayan in his fort 
on the south bank of the Brahmaputra. An Ahom army 
marched to his assistance, and the Musalmans were defeated 
and fled pell mell to Hajo. 

There were no further hostilities until 1635 when the Bali 
Muhammadans, after being defeated in several successive ? a ft yan i B 
engagements, made their last stand at Hajo, which fell after a end of 
gallant defence. The whole country west of the Bar Nadi then ? c . 
fell into the hands of the Ahoms. A fresh expedition Assam, 
was sent up from Bengal in 1637, and the Ahoms and their ally 
Bali Narayan were gradually driven back. A decisive defeat 
was inflicted on them at Kajali near the mouth of the Kallang. 
Bali Narayan fled but was hotly pursued. He was reduced 
to great straits, and was eventually killed near Singiri Parbat. 
In 1638 peace was negotiated. The country west of the 
Bar Nadi was given up to the Muhammadans, and the Ahoms 



66 THE KOCH KINGS. 

were left in undisturbed possession of the rest of the king- 
dom formerly ruled by Parikshit. From this time the eastern 
Koch kings can no longer be regarded as independent 
rulers. They still administered a tract, which was more or 
less conterminous with the Mangaldai subdivision, but they 
did so as the subordinates of the Ahoms, and their position 
differed but little from that of the Saring Raja, the 
Sadiyakhowa Gohain and other local governors of the Ahom 
kings. The western Koch kings continued to rule as 
vassals of the Muhammadans ; and their kingdom still 
survives, though within narrower limits, in the modern State 
of Koch Bihar. But their territory lay to the west of the 
Sankosh and did not include any part of the country which 
is now comprised within the limits of Assam. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 67 



CHAPTER V. 

THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 
In the last two chapters an account lias been given of the Origin of 

fortunes of various Bodo rulers, whose ancestors had been ™ 

• -i lii Ahoms. 

domiciled in Assam from time immemorial, and who had 

already lost much of their energy and martial qualities by 

long residence in a fertile and steamy plain. We have now to 

discuss the doings of a race of alien conquerors. Early in the 

thirteenth century a band of hardy hillmen wandered into the 

eastern extremity of the Brahmaputra valley, led by 

chance rather than by any deep-seated design, and quite 

unconscious of the fact that their descendants were destined to 

bring the whole valley under their rule and to set a limit to 

the eastward extension of the empire of the Mughal conquerors 

of India. These were the progenitors of the Ahoms.* They 

were an offshoot of the great Tai or Shan race, which spreads 

eastwards, from the border of Assam over nearly the whole 

of Further India, and far into the interior of China. The 

special section to which they belonged, or the Shans proper, 

occupied the northern and eastern hill tracts of Upper Burma 

and Western Yunnan, where they formed a group of states 

for which, according to Ney Elias, there is no collective native 

name. The paramount kingdom, the home of the Mau 

branch of the tribe, was known to themselves as Mungmau, and 

as Pong to the Manipuris ; and the latter term has been taken 

by some to denote the entire country or collection of states. 

As already stated, the Ahoms had the historic sense very 

fully developed, and many of the priests and nobles 

maintained JBuranjis, or chronicles, which were written up 

from time to time, and which contain a careful, reliable and 

* This is pronounced " Ah- quently that I have refrained from 
home." The proper spelling is putting accents on the vowels. 
Ahom, but the word occurs.^ so fre- 



68 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

continuous narrative of their rule. The present history of 
the Ahoms has been compiled from the Buranjis which still 
survive ; but before dealing with it, it will be of interest to 
refer briefly to the Ahom legends regarding the creation, the 
flood and the origin of their royal family. 
The The story of the creation as told in Ahom traditions 

1 ""d f * s cru( le an( l fantastic, but a brief outline of it may not be 
the altogether devoid of interest.* In the beginning, it is said, 

creation. ^ ere were ne ither gods nor men, animals nor any living thing. 
There was no earth, no air, no sun, no moon, no stars, but 
water only. There was a Supreme Being called Pha, from 
whom a great light emanated, but he had no corporeal exist- 
ence and remained suspended in the sky, " like a swarm of 
bees in a hive." He first assumed shape himself, and then 
created from his own body a being named Khun-thiw-kham, 
whose appearance was that of a huge crab, and who lay float- 
ing in the waters with his face upwards. A tortoise was next 
created and a large serpent with eight hoods, also a large 
white elephant with long tusks. A mountain was made in 
the north, and a pillar, to which a rope was affixed, was placed 
on the top of it. Then two large gold-tinted spiders were 
brought into existence, and from their excrement the earth 
gradually formed above the waters. They made the heavens 
with their webs, passing quickly backwards and forwards like 
a woman working her loom. In due course Pha created a 
female counterpart of himself who laid four eggs, from 
which were hatched after many years four sons. Three of 
them were appointed to rule the earth, the serpent and the 
thunder, respectively, while the fourth remained to assist his 
father in the subsequent acts of creation. The eldest son, the 
lord of the earth, contravened his father's orders, and although 
he did so inadvertently, he had to suffer death, and became a 
spirit. His son, who succeeded him as ruler of the earth, died 

* A translation of a slightly for April 1904. Dr. Grierson 

different version of this cosmogony points out that the opening portion 

is given by Dr. Grierson in the recalls the cosmogony described in 

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society the Babylonian tablets. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 69 

in his turn, and became a household deity who looks after the 
welfare of families. Another spirit, whose origin is not 
explained, took up his abode in a pipal tree. Seeing 
that the world was not going on properly, God created a 
poet. 

Like many other races the Ahoms have traditions of a And of fcbe 
flood.* It is said that once upon a time there was intense heat 00 ' 
from the sun, which dried up all the water on the face of the 
earth, and many people and animals died of thirst. At length 
the intense heat caused the earth to crack, and an immense 
volume of boiling water burst out and killed all remaining 
living things, save an old man named Thaolipling and a cow, 
who took refuge in a boat made of stone. As the waters rose, 
this boat was carried to the summit of a high mountain 
called Ipa far away to the north-east. The old man and the 
cow stayed on this mountain. The water gradually sub- 
sided leaving the bodies of the dead men and animals to 
decay. From them such an evil smell arose that it reached 
the abode of the Gods, who sent fire down from heaven to 
burn them. The heat caused by the conflagration was so 
intense, that the old man, unable to endure it, killed the cow 
and took refuge inside its body. There he found the seed of 
a pumpkin. After the fire had died away he planted this 
seed, and a tree grew up, which threw out four branches 
towards the four points of the compass. The northern branch 
was killed by the cold, the southern branch fell into the fire 
and was burnt, the western branch was destroyed by 
the remains of the flood, and only the eastern branch 
remained. 

This branch grew and flourished exceedingly, and produced 
a giant gourd, inside of which were men and every kind of 
animal, bird, and fish, and every kind of plant. The living 
creatures tried hard to get out, and at length their cries 



* The account of the A horn of the Attorn Puthis (J. A. S. B. 
story of the Hood is taken from ray 1894, Part III, page 108). 
Abstract of the Contents of one 



70 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

and struggles reached the ears of Lengdon or Indra,* who 
sent a messenger named Panthoi to ascertain the cause of the 
uproar. Panthoi went and listened and heard the cries of 
men, elephants, cattle, and other animals from inside the 
gourd. He returned and reported this to Indra, who sent 
his eldest son Aiphalan to break open the gourd by means of 
a flash of lightning. Aiphalan descended to earth to carry 
out his father's instructions. He at first directed his shaft 
towards the part of the gourd where the men were, but they 
entreated him not to destroy them and implored him to aim 
elsewhere, saying that, if they were allowed to live and to 
escape from the gourd, they would settle down and cultivate. 
Aiphalan then aimed at the place where the cattle were, but 
they likewise begged him to spare them, saying that they 
would be required by the men for ploughing. 

Lengdon's son again and again changed the direction of 
his aim, but was always met by entreaties to discharge his 
fiery missile at some other part of the gourd. At last the 
old man Thaolipling, who was sitting at the point where the 
flower had died off: from the gourd, offered to sacrifice himself 
for the men if they would undertake to give him a feast and 
to worship him ever afterwards. The men promised to do so, 
and Aiphalan thereupon discharged his lightning at the part 
of the gourd on which the old man was seated. Thaolipling 
was killed, but the gourd was split open, and everything inside 
it escaped. Aiphalan then taught the men different occupa- 
tions ; he also showed the birds how to build their nests, and 
the other animals how to support themselves. Thaolipling is 
still worshipped by the Ahom Deodhais and Bailongs, the 
tribal priests and astrologers, who alone of all the Ahoms still 
retain any recollection of their ancient beliefs. He receives 
from them periodic offerings of sweets, grain and other 

* The Teodhftis or Ahom priests of Assam. Aryan princes, as we have 

identify all their principal deities already seen, found their way to 

with gods of the Hindu pantheon. Further India at a very early date 

It is impossible now to say when and took the Hindu mythology with 

they first did this, but it may have them. The word Lengdon means 

been long before the Ahom conquest "one-powerful," i.e., The Almighty. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 71 

edibles. Lengdon is their main and supreme god, but this, 
they say, does not prevent them from doing homage to the 
man, but for whose act of self-abnegation the gourd might 
have remained unbroken until the present day. 

There are two versions of the origin of the Ahom kings, The 
one being the story told by the Deodhais, which tallies very m y t hical 
closely with that still preserved amongst the Shans of Upper the~Ahom 
Burma, while the other is a modification of it, invented by the kings. 
Brahmans with a view to encouraging their conversion to 
Hinduism. Both agree in attributing to them a divine 
ancestry. 

According to the Deodhais, Lengdon directed his son 
Thenkham to descend to earth and establish a kingdom there. 
Thenkham was unwilling to leave heaven, and so it was 
arranged that his sons Khunlung and Khunlai* should go 
instead. Lengdon presented them with an idol called 
Somdeo, t a magic sword, or Hengdan, two drums to be used 
for invoking divine aid, and four cocks for telling the omens. 
Khunlung, being the elder, was to be the king, and Khunlai, 
the younger, his chief councillor. 

Khunlung and Khunlai descended from heaven with their 
following by an iron (or golden) chain in the year 568 A.D., 
and alighted in the country of Mungrimungram,| where the 
Tais or Shans dwelt without a king. On arrival it was found 
that, in the hurry of departure, the cocks and other gifts had 
been left behind. One Lango went back to fetch them, and was 
given as his reward the kingdom of China and also the magic 
Hengdan. Khunlung and Khunlai built a town in Mungri- 
mungram. The latter by a stratagem ousted his elder brother, 
who thereupon, taking the Somdeo with him, went further 

* Khun-lung means "prince- ancestors. The Somdeo is said to 

elder " and Khun-lai, " prince- have been still in the possession of 

younger." Purandar Singh when he took 

f -According to the Shan version refuge in Bengal in 1819. 

recorded by Ney Elias, there were J Mung-ri-niung-rdm means 

two idols, a male called Sung and " country-deserted-co u n t ry - un - 

a female called Seng ; they were, inhabited," i.t., an uninhabited 

he says, the images of Khunlung's and deserted country. 



72 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

west, and founded a new kingdom in Mungkhumungjao.* 
He ruled for forty years, and then returned to heaven, leaving 
seven sons. The youngest, Khunchu, succeeded him, the 
others having been installed during his lifetime as tributary 
kings of other countries. The eldest son, whose kingdom was 
called Mungkang, inherited the Somdeo. Another son, it 
is said, was made king of Ava. In this connection, it is 
noteworthy that the Burmese rulers always called the Ahom 
princes their " brother kings." Mung means " country " and 
Rang " drum " or " poison," so that Mungkang may be 
translated either as the " country of the drum " or the " land 
of poison." Apparently the former is the correct translation 
as Ney Elias quotes a tradition that Samlungpha found a 
sapphire drum in the bed of the river which waters it. 

The usurper Khunlai ruled in Mungrimungram for seventy 
years, and his son Tyaoaijeptyatpha for forty years. The 
latter is said to have founded the Aijepi era, which is still 
current amongst the Naras and Burmese. He died childless, 
whereupon Tyaokhunjan, of the line of Khunlung and 
Khunchu, sent one of his sons to fill the vacant throne. This 
prince ruled for twenty-five years. On his death his kingdom 
was divided, one son taking Mungrimungram and the other 
Maulung on the Shueli river. The latter and his descendants 
ruled for three hundred and thirty-three years, when the line 
became extinct and another of Khunchu's descendants was 
elected king. One of his grandsons was Sukapha, the founder 
of the Ahom kingdom in Assam ; he had a dispute with 
one of his brothers, in consequence of which he left the 
country and, after stealing the Somdeo from the Baja of 
Mungkang, fled towards Assam.f 

The Brahmanical account of the origin of the ruling 
family is very similar to that invented for other kings o£ 

* Mung -khu- mung -j 'do means kings who are said to have ruled in 

"country -great- country- wide," i.e., Mungrimungram. Their names 

aland of great extent. Ney Elias vary considerably in the different 

gives the name as Maingkaing- Buranjis, and it is impossible to 

maingnyaung. say which, if any, is correct. 

t I have omitted the long list of 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 73 

aboriginal stock, who from time to time were induced to enter 
the fold of Hinduism. It is said that Vasishta Muni had a 
hermitage on a hill east of Saumarpith. Indra held high 
revels there, and was one day seen by the Muni sporting with 
Sachi in his flower garden. In his wrath, the Muni cursed 
Indra, and condemned him to have intercourse with a low 
caste woman. This happened ; and the woman, who proved to 
be an incarnation of Bidyadhari, begat a son who was highly 
favoured by Indra. He had many children, of whom Khun- 
lung and Khunlai were the eldest, and ruled in Mungrimun- 
gram. The subsequent events are as already narrated. 

The traditions of the Ahoms regarding the origin of their Compari- 
kings tally very closely in their main features with those f 01 V^ !? 
preserved by the Shans of Upper Burma, of which an account of other 
has been given by Ney Elias in his History of the Shans.* ™*J 
There are, as may be well understood, many differences in 
matters of detail, and especially in the names of the various 
rulers and of the places where they reigned. A more note- 
worthy point of divergence is that the Shan chronicles, while 
they contain no reference to Sukapha's invasion of Assam, 
claim that Samlungpha, the brother of a king of Mungmau 
who ascended the throne in 1220 A.D., gained several notable 
victories in Upper Assam, where he defeated the Chutiyas, as 
well as in Arakan, Manipur and other countries. The two 
stories, however, are not necessarily incompatible, and it is 
quite possible that, while Sukapha was pushing his way across 
the Patkai, with a small body of colonist?, rather than of 
military invaders, and establishing himself in the south-eastern 
corner of the Brahmaputra valley, the general of another 
Shan State may have entered the valley by a more easterly 
route and inflicted a series of defeats on the Chutiyas, whose 
kingdom was well to the north of the tract where the Ahoms 
made their first lodgment. 

That Sukapha was the leader of the body of Shans who 
laid the foundation of the A horn kingdom in Assam is a fact 

* A less accurate summary of Pemberton in The Eastern Fron- 
the same traditions is given by tier of India. 



74 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

established, not only by the unanimous testimony of the 

Bnranjis, but also by universal and well-remembered tradition. 

There is less certainty as to the precise State from which he 

came, but there seems no reason to discredit the statement of 

the Buranjis to the effect that it was Maulung. In any 

case, there can be no possible doubt that the original home 

of the Ahoms was somewhere in the ancient kingdom of 

Pong. They are genuine Shans, both in their physical type 

and in their tribal language and written character. They 

called themselves Tai (meaning " celestial origin"), which is the 

name by which the Shans still designate themselves, and they 

maintained a fairly continuous intercourse with the inhabitants 

of their original home until very recent times. Nor is their 

movement across the Patkai by any means an isolated one. The 

Khamtis, Phakials, Aitonias, Turungs and Khamjangs are all 

Shan tribes who have, at different times, moved along the 

same route from the cradle of their race ; but the Ahoms were 

the only ones who did so before the conversion of its inhabitants 

to Buddhism. The other Shan tribes of Assam are all 

Buddhists, which shows that they migrated at a later date. 

The Turungs, in fact, did not reach the plains of Assam until 

the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

SnkSpha, Sukapha is said to have left Maulung in 1215 A.D. with 

1 228 to . • 

1268 AD a following of eight nobles, and 9,000 men, women and chil- 
dren. It seems probable, though this is not stated, that the 
great majority of his followers were adult males. He had 
with him two elephants, and 300 horses. For thirteen years 
he wandered about the hilly country of the Patkai, making 
occasional raids on Naga villages, and in 1228 A.D. he arrived 
in Khamjang. 

He crossed a river called the Khamnamjang in rafts, and 
came to the Nongnyang lake. Some Nagas attempted to 
resist his advance, but he defeated them and perpetrated fright- 
ful atrocities on those whom he captured. He caused many 
of them to be killed and roasted, and compelled their relatives 
to eat their flesh. This ghastly barbarity created such wide- 
spread terror that the other Nagas of the neighbourhood all 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 75 

hastened to make their submission. Leaving one of his 

nobles to rule the conquered country, Sukapha proceeded to 

Dangkaorang, Khamhangpung and Namrup. He bridged 

the Sessa river and ascended the Dihing, but, finding the place 

unsuitable, he retraced his steps and, proceeding downstream, 

reached Tipam. Thence he went in 1236 A.D. to Mungklang 

Chekhru (Abhaypur), where he stayed for several years. In 

1240, this tract of country became flooded during the 

rainy season, so he left it and descended the Brahmaputra 

to Habung, where he spent two years. While here, the Ahoms 

lived by cultivation, but this place also was liable to 

inundation, and in 1244 a heavy flood necessitated another 

move. Sukapha, therefore, continued his journey down the 

Brahmaputra till he reached the mouth of the Dikhu. Thence 

he went to Ligirigaon. In 1246 he proceeded to Simaluguri, 

leaving a detachment at Ligirigaon. He stayed here for 

some years. It is said that he contemplated an attack on the 

people inhabiting the valley of the Namdang (a tributary of 

the Dikhu), but gave up the idea on finding how numerous 

they were. In 1253 Simaluguri was abandoned in favour of 

Charaideo, where a city was built amid general rejoicings. 

To celebrate the occasion two horses were sacrificed to the 

Gods, and prayers were offered by the Deodhais under a 

mulberry tree. 

The neighbouring country was at this time in the posses- Subjuga- 

sion of the Morans, whose king was named Badancha, and ^9 n °* 

Morfins 
of the Borahis, who were then ruled by Thakumtha. The and 

Morans still survive as a separate tribe, and at the end of Borahis. 

Ahom rule they occupied the country between the Dangori 

and Dibru rivers ; they paid no revenue but supplied various 

products of the jungle, such as elephants, dye, honey and 

mats. Many now profess to be Ahoms, and they have adopted 

many Ahom rites and customs ; their language, however, is 

unmistakably Bodo. Sukapha fought with and defeated 

these tribes in turn, after which he wisely adopted conciliatory 

measures, and, by treating them as equals and encouraging 

intermarriage, he welded them all into one nation. He made 



76 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

friends with his brother rulers in his ancestral home, and sent 
them presents of gold and silver. He died in 1268 A.D. 

He was an enterprising and brave prince, and his treatment 
of the conquered Morans and Borahis was most judicious, 
but his fair fame is sullied by the brutal means he adopted to 
overawe the hostile Nagas of the Patkai. The memory of 
his wanderings along the valley of the Dihing river is still 
preserved in various local names and traditions. Following 
the practice in his native country, Sukapha appointed two 
great officers of State, known as the Bar Gohain and the 
Burha Gohain, who exercised powers second only to those of 
the king himself.* It may be mentioned here that the Ahoms 
called Assam Mungdunsunkham (country- full-garden-gold) 
or the country full of golden gardens. 
Suteupha, Sukapha was succeeded by his son Suteupha, who ruled 
1281 ° ^ or thirteen years and died in 1281. In his reign the Kacharis 
abandoned to the Ahoms the country east of the Dikhu river. 
It is related in one Bwanji that there was a war between 
the Naras, or Shans of Mungkang, and the people of 
Mantara or Burma. The former were worsted, and appealed 
for help to Suteupha, who replied that he would send 
a force to their assistance if the Nara king would give him a 
daughter in marriage. The latter declined to do so. A quarrel 
ensued and Suteupha sent an expedition against the Naras, 
but his troops were defeated and the Burha Gohain, who com- 
manded them, was slain. The Bar Gohain was promptly 
despatched with a second force, but, instead of fighting, he 
came to terms with the enemy. On his return he was dis- 
graced and imprisoned. He was subsequently forgiven on the 
intercession of the other nobles. 
The_ rpkg Naras are regarded by the Ahoms as their close 

kinsmen, but Ney Elias inclines to a somewhat different 
view. In the fabulous or half fabulous account of Khunlung 
and Khunlai, the former is credited with having occupied the 

* An account of the Ahom ter also contains an explanation of 
system of government will be the titles of the Ahom kings and 
found in Chapter IX. That chap- nobles. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 77 

western portion of the country, i.e., the tract around Mung- 
kang in the Hukong valley. From this time, down to its 
conquest by Samlungpha, about 1215 A..D., the Shan chron- 
icles contain only a few vague references to this tract as the 
country of the Naras, and it seems to have formed an entirely 
independent state. Ney Elias adds that, from the little he 
was able to glean of the Naras from native sources, they 
formerly constituted the aboriginal population of the region 
in question, but afterwards became mixed with the Mau and 
Khamti Shans ; their original seat was probably in Khamti. 
However that may be, the Naras were a comparatively civi- 
lized people, and the few who still remain in Khamti, Mogaung 
and Upper Assam are regarded as a learned class. They are 
Buddhists, and are generally employed as astronomers and 
writers. 

The next king was Suteupha's son Subinpha. He reigned Sublnpha, 
from 1281 to 1293. During his reign no addition was made ~™ to 
to the territory conquered by Sukapha. He distributed his 
Ahom subjects in equal proportions between the Bar Gohain 
and the Burha Gohain. 

This prince was succeeded by his son Sukhangpha. During Sukhang- 
the long period of peace that followed their victory over the P^o 1 ^ 3 
earlier inhabitants of the tract in which they had settled, the 
Ahoms had greatly increased in numbers, not only by natural 
growth, but also by the admission to their tribe of many local 
recruits and, probably, by the arrival of fresh emigrants from 
their old home ; and they were now in a position to hold their 
own against the more powerful Rajas around them. The 
result was a succession of wars which eventually made them 
masters of the whole of the Brahmaputra valley. Curiously 
enough, they first tried their strength, not against their 
immediate neighbours, the Chutiyas and Kacharis, but against 
the Raja of Kamata. Hostilities continued for some years 
with heavy losses on both sides. At last, their adversary grew 
weary of the war, and, on the advice of his ministers, sent an 
envoy to sue for peace. A treaty was made, and his daughter 
Rajani was given to the Ahom king in marriage. 



78 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Sukhangpha died in 1332, after a reign of thirty-nine years. 
He left four sons Sukhrangpha, Sutupha, Tyaokhamthi and 
Chao Pulai. The last-mentioned was by the Kamata princess, 
Rajani. In one Buranji it is mentioned that the ruler of 
Mungkang sent to Sukhangpha to demand tribute, on the 
ground of his being the lineal descendant of the chief of 
Maulung in whose reign Sukapha had emigrated. The 
demand was not complied with, but soon afterwards the 
Mungkang Raja died and the matter was dropped.* 
Sukhrang- Sukhrangpha, the eldest of the late king's four sons, 
to 1364 ascended the vacant throne. He soon became unpopular, and 
his half-brother Chao Pulai, whom he had appointed to be 
Saring Raja, hatched a conspiracy against him. The plot 
being detected, Chao Pulai fled to his kinsman, the Raja of 
Kamata, who agreed to help him and marched to Athgaon 
and thence to Saring. Sukhrangpha then became alarmed 
and, not feeling sufficiently certain of the loyalty of his troops, 
opened negotiations and became reconciled with Chao Pulai. 

According to some accounts, Chao Pillar's conspiracy 
was instigated by the Bar Gohain, while others say that it 
was that officer who had poisoned the king's mind against 
him. But all agree that the Bar Gohain was the one to 
suffer, and he only escaped being put to death under the 
king's orders by concealing himself until the affair had blown 
over. He was subsequently forgiven and taken back into 
favour. Sukhrangpha died in 1364 after a reign of thirty- 
two years. 
Sutupha, He was succeeded by his brother Sutupha. There were 

1376 ° frequent disputes with the Chutiyas during this reign. At 
last, in 1376, the Chutiya king visited Sutupha at Chapaguri, 
and, pretending to be reconciled, invited him to a regatta on 
the Safrai river. He enticed him on to his own barge with- 
out attendants, and there treacherously murdered him. 

* This affair is not mentioned "by reing from 1308 to 1344. The 

Ney Elias. In his table of the alleged length of the former's reign 

Mogaung Tsaubwas, Chau-kun-lao leads one to suspect that the record 

is shown as reigning there from is incomplete. 
1248 to 1308 and his son Chau-pu- 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 79 

After Sutupha's death, there was no prince whom the great Interred 
nobles thought worthy of the throne, and so, for four years, *g*' ^ 
the Bar Gohain and Burha Gohain carried on the adminis- 1380. 
tration themselves. 

At last, in 1380, finding it difficult to govern the country Tyao- 
without a king, they raised Tyaokhamti, the third son of ^S^to 
Sukhangpha, to the throne. One of his first acts was to lead 1389. 
an army against the Chutiyas to punish them for the treach- 
erous murder of Sutupha. The elder of his two wives 
was left in charge daring his absence. She was on bad terms 
with the younger queen, who was the king's favourite, and 
took advantage of her position as regent to cause a false 
accusation to be preferred against her. The charge was 
investigated and declared true, whereupon the elder queen 
ordered her to be beheaded. The ministers, however, seeing 
that she was pregnant, instead of killing her, set her adrift on 
the Brahmaputra on a raft. The king was victorious in his 
campaign against the Chutiyas, b at was horrified, on his return, 
to hear of the execution of his favourite wife, especially when 
a new and impartial enquiry showed that the allegations 
against her were false. He was, however, too much under the 
influence of the elder queen to venture to take action against 
her. This, and his failure to prevent her from committing 
numerous acts of oppression, irritated the nobles so much 
that in 1389 they caused him to be assassinated. 

There was again no suitable successor to the throne, and Interreg 
the great nobles ruled once more without a king. Some years ?qJg t 
later a man named Thao Cheoken went across the Brahmaputra 1397. 
to trade in cattle, and there, in a Habung village, he saw 
a youth, named Sudang, of such noble aspect that he made 
enquiries about him, and learnt that he was the son of 
Tyaokhamthi's younger queen. The raft on which she was 
set adrift had floated to this Habung village, where a Brahman 
gave the unfortunate woman shelter. She died, after giving 
birth to this boy, who was brought up by the Brahman along 
with his own children. The Burha, Gohain was informed 
of these facts and, after verifying the story and consulting 



80 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

the other ministers, he brought the youth to the capital and 
placed him on the throne. 
Sudang- Sudangpha became king in 1397. He was then fifteen 

to" 14u" 9 y ears °^ a » e * From having been brought up in a Brahman's 
house, he is often known as the u Brahman Prince." He 
built a town at Dhola, but afterwards made his capital at 
Charguya near the Dihing river. His ccession marks the 
first stage in the growth of Brahmanical influence amongst 
the Ahoms. He brought with him from the Habung country 
the Brahman who had sheltered him and his sons. The 
latter were given posts of importance on the frontier, while 
the old Brahman himself was installed as his confidential 
adviser, and, under his influence, many Hindu rites and 
ceremonies began to be observed. 

The Tipam chiefs, who were dissatisfied with the new 
regime, hatched a plot against the young king. This came 
to his ears, but instead of at once taking open steps against 
the conspirators, he caused a stockade for catching elephants 
to be constructed, and, having caught some elephants, invited 
them to join him in celebrating the occasion by a feast. 
Cows and buffaloes were slain and, when the festivities were 
in full swing and all suspicion had been allayed, the conspirators 
were suddenly overpowered and put to death. According to a 
practice which was common amongst the Ahoms and many 
other Asiatic tribes, their heads were piled up in a heap as a 
trophy. 

Having thus disposed of his more active enemies, Sudang- 
pha endeavoured to conciliate the rest of the Tipamias by 
marrying the daughter of one of their chiefs named Khuntai. 
The girl, however, had already become enamoured of a 
Tipamia named Tai Sulai, and the latter, after dining one 
night with the king, sent a ring to the queen by one of 
his servants. The king was informed of this, and called for 
an explanation from Tai Sulai, who fled forthwith to 
Surumpha, king of Mungkang, and begged for help. The 
latter sent his Bar Gohain with an army against Sudangpha, 
who met the invaders in person and defeated them, near 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM K1NQDOM. 81 

Kuhiarbari in the Tipam country, but sustained a slight wound 
from a spear-thrust while riding on an elephant at the head of 
his troops. The enemy were pursued by the Ahom Bar Gohain 
as far as the Patkai. There were no further hostilities, and a 
formal treaty was concluded in 1401 by which the Patkai was 
fixed as the boundary between the two countries. The meet- 
ing of the two Bar Gohains, who conducted the negotiations 
for peace, took place on the side of the Nongnyang lake, 
twenty-eight miles south-west of Margherita, and statues of 
them are said to have been carved in the rock there. A 
solemn oath of amity was sworn, and consecrated by the cut- 
ting up of a fowl. The word Patkai is said to be derived 
from this incident. The full name was Pat-kai-seng-kau, 
which means " cut-f owl-oath-sworn. " The former name of 
the pass was Dai-kau-rang or " the junction of nine peaks." 
Nong-nyang means " lake-shaking." 

Tai Sulai, being thus deprived of his asylum, took refuge 
with the Raja of Kamata, who refused to give him up. An 
expedition was despatched under the Bar Gohain to invade 
Kamata, but the Raja averted war by giving his daughter 
Bhajani to Sudangpha, with a dowry of two elephants and a 
number of horses and of male and female servants, as well as 
a quantity of gold and silver.* 

Sudangpha devoted the remaining years of his reign to 
completing the subjugation of the Tipam, Khamjang and 
Aiton tribes, whose chiefs had again refused to pay tribute. 
It was found that they had received encouragement from the 
Nara Raja, and messengers were sent to remonstrate with 
him ; he warned the recusant chiefs not to expect any further 
aid from him and they then submitted. Sudangpha died in 
1407 after a reign of ten years. Gunabhiram says that this 
king gave himself up to a life of self-indulgence, but none of 

* Blochmann, relying on Prinsep, source of Prinsep's information is 

says that during this reign the not known, but the statement prob- 

Ahoms conquered North-East ably refers to this dispute with the 

Bengal as far as the Karatoya Raia of Kamata. 
(J. A. S. B., 1873, p. 235). The 



82 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

the Buranjis in any way confirm this statement, and its 

accuracy is doubtful. His reign was a very eventful one, 

and in one battle at least he fought at the head of his troops. 

Sujang- The late king's son Sujangpha ascended the throne. No- 

1407 to ^ nm » °^ anv importance is recorded during his reign. He 

1422. died in 1422. 

Suphak- One of his sons, Suphakpha, was the next king. He 

P~J(, reigned seventeen years, and died in 1439. His reign also 
1439. was uneventful. 

Susenpha, Susenpha, a son of Suphakpha by a Tipam princess, now 
1439 to ascended the throne. The chief occurrence of his reign was 
an expedition against the Tangsu Nagas in retaliation for raids 
committed by them. The king, who led his troops in person, 
attacked and routed the Nagas, but the Ahoms lost one 
hundred and forty men in the battle.* A ruler of some coun- 
try to the east of Assam is said to have sent presents to 
Susenpha in order to make friends with him, and the Akhampa 
Nagas came in with a present of swords as a token of their 
submission. 

Susenpha died in 1488 after a reign of forty-nine years. 
The scanty references to his long reign in the Buranjis may 
perhaps be taken as proof that he was a good king and that 
under his rule the people were contented and prosperous. 
Susenpha, Susenpha was followed by his son Suhenpha. War was 
1493 renewed with the Tangsu Nagas, who were ultimately defeated, 

though, at the commencement of hostilities, they routed a 
detachment of Ahoms, and cut off the head of the Bar Gohain 
who was in command. In 1490 war broke out with the 
Kacharis. The Ahom army was defeated at Dampuk, on the 
bank of the Dikhu, with the loss of a commander and one 
hundred and twenty men killed and many more wounded. 
The Ahoms sued for peace, and a princess was sent to the 

* This is the general version, pureed as he sat there, and that the 

Accordin - to one account the Ahoms Banrukia Gohain then took com - 

were defeated, while another writer mand and defeated the Nagas with 

gavs that Susenpha himself fled heavy loss. The word Tangsu is 

from the field in a litter, "being so said to he derived from the Ahom 

overcome with panic that he was tang " chase " and su " tiger." 



THE RISE OP THE AHOM KINGDOM. 88 

Kachari king with two elephants and twelve female slaves as 
her dowry.* 

Suhenpha was assassinated in 1493 by some men of the 
Tairungban clan. They had been punished for stealing some 
paddy from the royal granary and, in revenge, stabbed the king 
to death with a pointed bamboo, while engaged on some repairs 
in the palace. According to some accounts the murder was 
instigated by the Burha Gohain. 

Suhenpha was succeeded by his son Supimpha, who at once Supim- 
set himself to trace out and punish his father's murderers. Pjjj* . 
This led to the revolt of the Burha Gohain, who appears to 1497. 
have been suspected of complicity. There is a story that one 
of Supimpha' s wives happened to see a Naga chief, who had 
come to pay tribute, and praised his beauty in the king's 
hearing. The latter was so incensed at this that he sent her 
to the Naga's village. She was pregnant at the time and 
subsequently gave birth to a son of whom more will be heard 
later on. Supimpha died or, as some say, was assassinated, in 
1497. 

His son Suhungmung ascended the throne at Charguya Suhung- 
with great ceremony. The increasing influence of the JX™ n *' 
Brahmans is shown by the fact that he also assumed the Dihingia 
Hindu name Swarga Narayan. He was better known as the ??$±\ 
Dihingia Raja, because he made his capital at Bakata on the 1539, 
Dihing and settled a number of Ahoms in the neighbour- 
hood, after erecting an embankment along the river to prevent 
inundation when it was in flood. In 1504, the Aitonia Nagas 
revolted, and the Bar Gohain and the Burha Gohain were 
placed in charge of an expedition against them. The Nagas 
were defeated, and acknowledged the supremacy of the Ahom 
king to whom they sent a daughter of their chief and a 
present of four elephants as a peace offering. They also 
agreed to pay a yearly tribute of axes, gongs and amber. 



* This is the version given in that, when peace was made, the 
the Buranjit. Gunabhiram says Kacharis ceded some territory, 
that the battle was indecisive and 

G3 



84 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

In 1510 an enquiry was made into the number, condition 
and distribution of the people, and they were divided into 
clans. In 1512 the Habung country was annexed. 

to of a " Iu 1518 the Chuti y a Ra 3 a ' Dhir N arayan, invaded the 
the country with an army and a flotilla of boats.* His land forces 

Chutiyas. were defeated at Dikhu Mukh by the Ahoms, who were 
also victorious in a naval encounter at Siraati. The Chutiyas 
lost heavily in both engagements and were compelled to retreat, 
whereupon Suhungmung took possession of Mungkhrang, 
and of the country round Namdang, where he built a 
town. Dhir Narayan now invoked the aid of the Raja of 
Mungkang, who was at first disposed to help him. He was, 
however, dissuaded by a Banpara chief, and eventually sent 
presents to Suhungmung and made an alliance with him.t 

Failing to obtain help from outside, the Chutiyas made no 
effort to recover their lost territory until 1520, when they 
attacked the Ahom fort at Mungkhrang. The A horn com- 
mander was killed in a sortie and the garrison fled ; and for a 
time the Chutiyas once more ruled this tract of country. For 
some reason, not disclosed in the Buranjis, two years elapsed 
before Suhungmung equipped a fresh expedition. The Chutiyas 
were then engaged and defeated near the mouth of the Sessa 
river, and not only was the lost territory recovered, but a 
further advance was made to the mouth of the Tiphao river, 
where a fort was erected. 

In 1523 the Chutiyas laid siege to this fort, but met with 
a stubborn resistance. Suhungmung hurried to the place with 
strong reinforcements, and arrived on the very day on which 

* According to other accounts the projected invasion mentioned in 

the invasion occurred in 1516, and the text, set out to undertake the 

the name of the Chutiya king was conquest of Assam, but that, on 

Chandra Narayan, not Dhir reaching the boundary, the Ahom 

Narayan as stated in the text. king sent him large presents of 

t According to Ney Elias, it is cattle and horses and he retreated 

stated in the Shan chronicles that peacefully. This apparently refers 

Chaukaapha, who ascended the to the same incident, and, in spite 

throne of Mungkang or Mogaung of the difference in details, affords 

in 1493 and might, therefore, well some confirmation of the accuracy 

fcaye been 6till alive at the time of of the Ahom Buranjis. 



THE RISE OF THfi AHOM KINGDOM. 85 

the Chutiyas were delivering their assault. He at once made 
a counter-attack, and the Chutiyas were utterly routed. They 
sued for peace and sent valuable presents, but Suhungmung 
would accept nothing less than the heirlooms of the Chutiya 
king, his gold cat, gold elephant, and gold umbrella. These 
being refused, the war was continued. The Chutiyas fortified a 
position at the mouth of one of the rivers near Sadiya, but 
were easily dislodged by the Ahoms, who crossed the river on 
a bridge of boats and pursued the retreating Chutiyas as far 
as the Kaitara hill. The latter then occupied the hill 
Chautan (Chaudangiri), and for some time kept the Ahoms 
in check by rolling down heavy stones. As it was found 
impossible to win the position by a frontal attack, a force 
was detached to take the enemy in the rear. The back of the 
mountain was precipitous, and, at first, the ascent seemed 
impracticable ; but the Ahom soldiers were not to be denied, 
and, by holding on to creepers, they at last gained the 
summit. The Chutiyas, taken by surprise, fled hastily to 
Jangmungkham (Mathadang), when another engagement was 
forced on them. Their king was killed by an arrow, and 
his eldest son, who rushed forward to avenge his death, was 
also slain. The Chutiyas then gave way, and fled, hotly 
pursued by the Ahoms, who took a great number of 
prisoners, including the whole of the royal family except 
the principal queen who, preferring death to captivity, 
killed herself with a spear. The captives and loot (in- 
cluding the royal heirlooms) were presented to Suhungmung, 
together with the heads of the Chutiya king and his son. 
These were buried under the steps of 'the temple at 
Charaideo, so that the Ahom king might walk over them 
whenever he entered the temple. 

The whole Chutiya country was now annexed, and a new 
officer of State, who was called the Sadiya Khowa Gohain, 
was appointed to administer it. In order to strengthen his 
position, three hundred Ahoms of the Gharphaliya clan, 
with their families and twelve chiefs, were removed from 
Garhgaon to Sadiya, and another contingent of the same 



86 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

clan were settled on the banks of the Dihing river. The 
royal family, with the leading men amongst the Chutiyas, 
were deported to Pakariguri, while a number of Brahmans 
and of blacksmiths and other artisans were taken from Sadiya 
to the Ahom capital. Having settled all these matters, 
Suhungmung returned to Charaideo where he performed 
the Rikhhvan ceremony. 
Descrip- This is an Ahom ceremony for obtaining long life (from rib, 

Rikkhvan " rev * ve /' an( ^ khvan y " life.") It was generally performed 
ceremony, at the installation of a new king, or in time of danger, or 
after a victory. The procedure was as follows. The king 
sat in full dress on a platform, and the Deodhai, Mohan and 
Bailong pandits, i.e., the tribal priests and astrologers, poured 
holy water, purified by the recitation of sacred texts, over 
his head, whence it ran down his body through a hole in 
the platform on to the chief Bailong, or astrologer, who was 
standing below. The king then changed his clothes, giving 
those which he had been wearing and all his ornaments to the 
chief Bailong. The same ceremony, on a smaller scale, was 
also frequently performed by the common people, and still is, 
on certain occasions, e.g., when a child is drowned. 

The Sadiya Khowa Gohain was shortly afterwards at- 
tacked by Phukangmung, a chief of one of the neighbour- 
ing hill tribes. The latter was defeated and slain, but not 
before he had himself killed one of the Ahom commanders 
with his spear. Another local chief, who had been inclined 
to give trouble, thereupon made his submission and sent a 
daughter to the royal seraglio. In 1525 Suhungmung pro- 
ceeded in person to the Dihing country and appointed officers 
to administer the frontier provinces of Habung, Dihing and 
Banlung. 
Creation It is narrated that the wife of the late king Supimpha 

° f * a ? * t w ^° ^ ac ^ ^ een sem " ky hi m to a Naga chief, subsequently 
of gave birth to a son named Senglung. Suhungmung, on see- 

Barpatra j n g ^is youth, was struck by his high-bred appearance, and 
learning that,his mother was already pregnant before Supimpha 
sent her away, he took him into favour, and created for him 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 87 

the new appointment of Barpatra Gohain, which he made 
equal to those of the Bar Gohain and the Burha Gohain. 
These two functionaries objected to the new appointment and 
refused to give up for it any of the men under their control. 
The king, however, overcame this difficulty by allotting to 
the Barpatra Gohain, the Barahis, Chutiyas and Morans, who 
had not been placed under either of the other Gohains. He 
then called a council of all the leading nobles, and, giving 
Senglung a seat between the Bar Gohain and the Burha 
Gohain, publicly invested him with his new appointment and 
declared his rank to be equal to theirs. 

In November 1526 Suhungmung marched against the Kachfiri 
Kacharis, and ascended the Dhansiri to Barduar, where a war * 
bathing ghat was constructed under his orders. He caused 
a fort with brick walls to be built at Marangi, and spent 
several nights there. He then advanced with his army, the 
leaders of which were mounted on elephants, to Maiham 
or Kathkatia. The vanguard was here surprised and put to 
flight with the loss of 40 men killed, and Maiham was re- 
occupied by the Kacharis. The Ahoms were rallied and 
advanced again to the attack ; and this time, although the 
Kacharis defended themselves valiantly with bows and arrows, 
they were at last overpowered and forced to retreat with 
heavy loss. They were closely followed by the Ahoms, and a 
fresh engagement was forced on them, in which they sustained 
a decisive defeat, leaving, according to one account, 1,700 
dead upon the field. 

Early in 1527 the Chutiyas revolted. They were soon Chutiya 
reduced to submission, but the Dihingia Gohain lost his life rev °l fc ' 
during the disturbances. 

In the same year occurred the first Muhammadan in- Muham- 
vasion recorded in Ahom history. The name of the Musal- ™^n 
man commander is not given, but he is called the great 
Vazir.* The Ahoms attacked his army in front and on 

* This is apparently the invasion passage : — 
referred to by the author of the "After having reduced the 
Hiyazussalatin in the following Rajas of the districts as far as 



88 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



both flanks and defeated it. They carried the pursuit as far 
as the Burai river and captured forty horses and from twenty 
to forty cannon. On hearing of the victory, Suhungmung 
proceeded to Sala and sent a force to take possession of 
Duimunisila. A fort was constructed at the mouth of the 
Burai river and a detachment was posted at Phulbari. After 
making these dispositions the king returned to his capital, but 
in 1529 he again went to Sala, whence he despatched filibus- 
tering expeditions down the Kallang and up the Bharali. 
The slaves and booty taken in these forays were made over to 
the king who, after leaving a guard at Narayanpur, returned 
to Dihing. At the close of the year, the Chutiyas again 
revolted, but they were defeated in various engagements on 



Orissa, Husain took tribute from 
them. After this he resolved to 
invade the kingdom of Asam, in 
the north-east of Bengal, and 
he set out with a large army 
of foot and a numerous fleet, and 
entered the kingdom and subdued 
it as far as Kamrup and Kamata 
and other districts. The Raja of 
the country, unable to withstand, 
withdrew to the mountains. 
Sultan Husain _left his son with 
a strong army in Asam to complete 
the settlement of the country, 
and returned victoriously to Bengal. 
After the return of the Sultan 
the Prince pacified and guarded 
the conquered country ; but when 
the rains set in, and the roads 
were closed, the Raja issued with 
his men from the hills, surrounded 
the Prince, and cut off his sup- 
plies. In a short time they were 
all killed." 

The expeditions against Kamata 
and against the Ahoms are here 
spoken of as forming part of the 
same operations. If this were so, 
there would be an error of more than 
twenty years in the date given in 
the Ahom Buranjis, as the fall of 
Kamatapurjtook place in 1498 A. D. 
The author of the Riyaz does 



not, however, give his authority 
for his version, and it does not tell 
very strongly against the theory 
that there were in reality two 
separate expeditions, the one against 
Kamata in 1498, and the other 
against the Ahoms some twenty 
years later. The Riyaz was not 
compiled until 1787, and two expe- 
ditions in the same direction might 
easily be confused, and treated 
as one and the same, in the 
lapse of years and the uncertain 
record of oral tradition or loose 
writing. It is known that the 
invasion of Kamatapur ended with 
the death of the Raja Nilambar. 
In Husain Shah's inscription of 
A.H. 907 (150 A.D.) at Gaur the 
conquest of Kamrup and Kamata 
only is referred to, and there is no 
mention of any expedition against 
the Ahoms, so that it had probably 
then not taken place. In these 
circumstances there seems no reason 
to doubt the accuracy of the Ahom 
chronology. In the Fathiyah 
ilbriyah it is said that Husain 
Shah's army consisted of 24,000 
foot and horse and numerous ships. 
(cf. J. A. S. B., 1872, pp. 79 and 
335, and 1873, p. 209). 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM.. 89 

the Chandangiri and Dangthang hills, and on the banks o£ 
the Brahmaputra, Dibong and Kundil rivers. 

In 1531, the Ahoms again erected a fort at Marangi. Fresh war 
This gave offence to Khunkhara, the Kachari king, and he sent jpachfiris. 
his brother Detcha to drive them out. A battle was fought* 
in which the Kacharis were routed and their commander was 
killed. In order to punish Khunkhara for this attack, and 
for his encroachments elsewhere, Suhungmung proceeded up 
the Dhansiri with a large army, and halted at the junction of 
the Doyang and Dhansiri rivers. A night attack was made 
on a place called Nika, which was taken and burnt. The 
Ahoms then advanced to Dengnut, where the army was 
divided into two divisions, one ascending the left, and the 
other the right, bank of the Dhansiri. Another battle was 
fought, and the Kacharis were again defeated and pursued as 
far as their capital at Dimapur.* The Kachari king fled 
with his son, and a prince named Detsung was set up in his 
place, after he had given his sister to Suhungmung, and made 
numerous presents to him, and his chief nobles. 

Hostilities were now renewed with the Muhammadans Further 
who had advanced up the Brahmaputra with fifty vessels. A Mu j iam * 
battle was fought at Temani in which the Ahoms were invasions, 
victorious, and the Muhammadan commander, leaving his 
ships, fled on horse-back. Garrisons were placed by the 
Ahoms at Sala, on the bank of the Bharali, and at Singiri. 
The last-mentioned place, which was in charge of the Barpatra 
Gohain, was soon afterwards attacked by a large force of 
Muhammadans, but they were defeated and pursued as far as 

* DimSpur, or the town on the as the name of the river on which 

Dima,, is a modern name. We the Kachari capital was situated, 

have no record of the Kachari name Nam is the Ahom word for water 

for the place. It was called hy the or river, and we thus find the 

Ahoms Che-din-chi-pen (city-earth- Dhansiri called Nam-tima, or 

hurn-make), i.e., the brick city, "river-river." The Jaldhaka river 

It was also sometimes alluded to in North Bengal was similarly, 

as Che-dima, or the city on until quite recently, called Di-chhu, 

the Dima, river. Dima or Duima the first syllable being the Kachari , 

was the Kachari word for any and the second the Tibetan name 

large collection of water (di, water ; for water or river. 
ma, great), but the Ahoms took it 



90 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Khagarijan (Nowgong) and their commander, Bit Malik, was 
slain. Fifty horses and many cannons, guns, etc., were taken 
and offered to Suhungmung, who was so greatly pleased with 
the Barpatra Gohain's conduct o£ the operations that he 
presented him with a beautiful girl and ordered the Rikkhvan 
ceremony to be performed for him with great pomp. 

In April 1532, a Muhammadan commander named 
Turbak* with thirty elephants, 1,000 horses and a large 
park of artillery, as well as a great number of foot soldiers, 
invaded the country, and encamped opposite the Ahom fort at 
Singiri. On hearing of this, Suhungmung sent his son Suklen 
with strong reinforcements to Singiri, and himself proceeded 
to Sala. After a long time spent in skirmishing, Suklen 
became impatient and, contrary to the advice of his astrologers, 
crossed the Brahmaputra and attacked the Muhammadan 
encampment. He met with a vigorous resistance, and, in the 
end, suffered a crushing defeat, eight of his commanders 
being killed and he himself severely wounded. The Ahoms 
retreated to Sala, where reinforcements were collected, and the 
Barpatra Gohain was made the Commander-in-Chief. 

The Musalman army halted at Koliabar for the rainy 
season, and during the next few months the only event recorded 
is the capture by them of seven boats on the Brahmaputra* 
In October they took up a position at Ghiladhari, and in 
November, Suklen, who had recovered from his wound, came 
down to take command of the Ahom forces at Sala, where he 
was shortly afterwards surrounded by the Muhammadans» 
They burnt down the houses outside the fort, but, in an 
attempt to storm the place, were repulsed by the Ahoms, who 
poured boiling water on them. A sortie was made, and the 
Muhammadan cavalry was being driven back, when their 
artillery came to the rescue and threw into confusion the 



* This commander's name can- who succeeded him, reigned only a 

not be traced in any Muhammadan few months, and was followed by 

history. Nasrat Shah ruled till Mahmud Shah, the last of the 

1532 when he was murdered by his dynasty of Husain Shah. He was 

eunuchs. ALa'uddin Firuz Shah, defeated by Sher Shah in 1538. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 91 

elephants attached to the Ahom army # which was then 
repulsed with heavy loss. In one or two subsequent encounters 
also, success rested with the Musalmans. At last the fortune of 
war changed. In March 1533 a naval engagement near 
Duimunisila resulted in a great victory for the Ahoms. Two 
Muhammadan commanders, Bangal and Taju (sic), were 
slain, together with a large number of common soldiers. 
According to the Buranjis the total losses on the side of the 
invaders were between 1,500 and 2,500 men. They also lost 
twenty-two ships and a number of big guns. 

Next day, Turbak was reinforced by Husain Khan with 
six elephants, 100 horse and 500 foot soldiers, and he now 
took up a position at the mouth of the Dikrai, while the 
Ahoms pitched their camp on the opposite bank. The two 
armies lay facing each other for several months, each waiting 
for the other to leave its entrenchments. The initiative was 
eventually taken by the Ahoms, who attacked and defeated 
the Muhammadans in a series of engagements. The final 
battle was fought near the Bharali. A number of elephants 
and horses on the Musalman side got bogged in a morass, 
and their line of battle was thus thrown into confusion. 
Turbak tried to save the day by leading a cavalry charge 
in person, but in vain. He was transfixed by a spear,* and, 
when he fell, the defeat became a rout. The Ahoms followed 
hard on the fugitives as far as the Karatoya river, where 
their commander is said to have erected a temple and exca- 
vated a tank in commemoration of the victory. Before 
returning, an envoy is said to have been sent by him to the 
king of Gaur with presents, and to have brought back a 
princess for the Ahom king. It would thus appear that this 
invasion was the work, not of the nominal king of Bengal, 
but of some local Muhammadan chief or freelance, of whom, 
at this period, there were many in the outlying parts of that 
province. 

* This seems the most reliable sent by Suhuno;mung, who saw 

story, but according to one Buranji, that it was hopeless to expect 

he was treacherously stabbed before victory so long as Turbak lived, 
the engagement by an assassin 



92 THE RISE OF THE AHOAt KINGDOM. 

During the pursuit, Husain Khan was caught and put to 
death. Twenty-eight elephants and 850 horses were taken, 
together with a great number of cannon and matchlocks, and 
a quantity of gold and silver and other booty. This was 
made over to the king, who divided the elephants and horses 
among his nobles. He then returned to his capital at Dihing 
and performed the RiJckhvdn ceremony, after which he 
proceeded to Charaideo, where he offered oblations to the 
dead and sacrifices to the Gods. The head of Turbak was 
buried on the top of the Charaideo hill. 

The use of firearms by the Ahoms dates from the close of 
this war. Up to this time their weapons had consisted of 
swords, spears, and bows and arrows.* The Muhammadans 
who were taken prisoners in this war were settled in 
different parts of the country. Tradition says that they were 
at first ordered to cut grass for the king's elephants, but were 
found quite unfit for this work. They were then employed 
as cultivators, but their ignorance of agriculture was so great 
that they carried mud to the paddy seedlings instead of 
ploughing land and planting the seedlings in it. They were 
then left to their own devices, and took to working in brass, 
an occupation which their descendants, who are known as 
Morias, carry on to this day.t 



* This is the statement of the guns, and store of excellent powder, 

Ahom historians, and is probably both made in the country. The 

correct. The previous use of fire- powder is round and small like ours, 

arms is nowhere mentioned in any and of excellent quality." (Taver- 

history or tradition. Tavernier, nier, London, 1678, Pt. II, Bk. Ill, 

however, in narrating the result p. 187.) 

of Mir Jumlah's expedition to t The ordinary Muhammadans of 

Assam in 1663, says : — Assam call themselves Gar id, an 

" 'Tis thought that these (the indication of their claim to have 

Ahoms) were the people that come originally from Gaur, the 

formerly invented gunpowder ; ancient Muhammadan capital of 

which spread itself from Asftm to Bengal. Moria may be a corrup- 

Pegu and from Pegu to China, tion of this word (the Morias f re- 

from when the invention has been quently pronounce g as m), or the 

attributed to the Chinese. How- term may have reference to the way 

ever, certain it is that Mirgimola in which they fashion their wares 

brought from thence several pieces by beating ; mdriba means " to 

of cannon, which were all iron beat " in Assamese. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 98 

In 1534 there was a very severe outbreak of cattle disease, Cattle 
a scourge which, it is commonly asserted, was not known in diseaFe * 
Assam till comparatively modern times, and a great number 
of cattle died. 

The years 1535 and 1536 were taken up with hostilities Expedi- 
against the Khamjang, Tablung and Namsang Nagas. The tlon . s 
operations were entrusted to the king's son Suklen, who had Nagas. 
already distinguished himself in the struggle with the 
Muhammadans. The Khamjang Nagas soon yielded and 
paid a fine of one hundred mithun (bison), which were 
presented to the king, but the two other tribes inflicted a 
reverse on the Ahom troops, who retreated with the loss of four 
guns. Shortly afterwards, however, they made their sub- 
mission and returned the guns. 

In the meantime the Kachari Raja, Detsung, had again Final 

shown signs of hostility. An army was sent against him, ^ fe ?^ . 

and the king himself accompanied it as far as Marangi. i n Dhan- 

The force advanced via Hamdai to Banphu, from which Sl \\ 

vallev. 
place troops were sent up both banks of the Doyang. The 

force which marched along the right bank drove back the 

Kacharis, but that on the left bank was held in check until 

reinforcements were pushed forward, whereupon the Kacharis 

fled, and suffered heavy loss in the pursuit which followed. 

Detsung at first took refuge in a fort on the Daimari hill, but 

on the approach of the Ahoms, who advanced up the Dhansiri, 

he fled, first to Lengur and then to his capital at Dimapur. 

The Ahoms continued to press forward, but, by the time 

they reached Dimapur, Detsung had again fled. His mother 

and three princesses were found in the city ; the former was 

put to death, but the princesses were sent to the king's harem. 

Detsung was pursued to Jangmarang, where he was at last 

taken and put to death. His head was brought to the Ahom 

king, under whose orders it was buried on the Charaideo hill. 

There was no further attempt at resistance ; and the Ahoms 

thus became masters, not only of the Dhansiri valley, which 

they never attempted to occupy and which soon relapsed into 

jungle, but also of the whole of the Kachari possessions north 



94 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Relations 
with Koch 
and Mani- 
puri 
kings. 



Suhung- 
mung is 



sinated. 



His 

character 
and 

achieve- 
ments. 



of the Kallang river in Nowgong. The king returned to his 
capital and, as usual after a successful campaign, offered 
oblations to the dead and sacrifices to the Gods. In this war 
the Kacharis as well as the Ahoms are reported to have used 
cannon. 

In 1537, the Koch king Bisva Singh and his brother are 
said to have visited the Ahom Raja and offered him presents. 
They were given presents in return, and were escorted back 
by a guard of honour. In the same year envoys were sent 
to the Raja of Manipur, and presents were exchanged. 

The relations of the king with his son Suklen gradually 
became very strained. Suklen had been very anxious to take 
for himself the three Kachari princesses captured at Dimapur 
and was mortally offended when his father asserted his right 
to them. The latter, on his side, was exasperated by his son 
coming on one occasion into his presence without making the 
customary obeisance. They quarrelled again over a cock fight, 
and, at last, Suklen, who had already been suspected of trea- 
chery during the war with the Muhammadans, became openly 
hostile. The king was afraid of treachery, and made Suklen's 
mother swear fealty by dipping her hand in water, but, this 
notwithstanding, in January 1539, Suklen suborned a Kachari 
servant of the king named Ratiman, who crept stealthily into 
his bedroom and stabbed him while he slept. The assassin 
was caught and killed by the palace guard before he could 
make good his escape. 

Thus died Suhungmung after an eventful reign of f orty-two 
years. He was a bold, enterprising, and resourceful ruler, and 
the Ahom dominions were extended by him in all directions. 
The Chutiyas were subjugated, and their country was brought 
under control by the appointment of Ahom officials at Sadiya 
and on the Dihing, and by the settlement at those places of a 
number of Ahom families. Vigorous measures were taken to 
put down Naga raids, which up to that time had been of 
frequent occurrence. The power of the Kacharis was broken, 
and their capital at Dimapur was twice occupied. A perma- 
nent official known as the Marangi Khowa Gohain was 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 95 

appointed to hold the lower valley of the Dhansiri, and the 
greater part of Nowgong was also taken possession of. 
Three Muhammadan invasions were successfully repulsed. 
The social condition of the people was also attended to. They 
were divided off into clans, and artisans were imported from 
the Chutiya country and elsewhere. The use of firearms was 
introduced ; and the Sale era of the Hindus was adopted in 
place of the old system of calculating dates by the Jovian 
cycle of sixty years, which is described in Appendix B. 

The reign was not less important from a religious point of 
view. Apart from the growing influence of the Brahmans, 
it witnessed the spread of the Vaishnava reformation promul- 
gated by Sankar Deb, which has already been dealt with in 
the Chapter on Koch rule. 

The patricide Suklenmung succeeded to the throne. He Suklen- 
made his capital at Garhgaon, whence he is also known as the JjS^l 
Garhgaya Baja. His first act was to endeavour to remove 1552. 
suspicion as to his complicity in his father's murder by order- 
ing all the assassin's brothers to be put to death. During 
the earlier years of his reign, he paid repeated visits to the 
country recently taken from the Kacharis, for the purpose of 
bringing it under proper control and introducing a settled 
form of government. Finding that his efforts were being 
hampered by the turbulence of some of the petty chiefs, or 
Bhuiyas, who occupied the valley of the Kopili, he caused 
them to be transported to a place nearer head-quarters, where 
they would be under supervision. 

In 1542 a Chutiya raid is recorded, but the great event of Hostili* 
the reign was the commencement of a series of conflicts with —jj^ ^ 
the K och king Nar Narayan, who was rapidly becoming the Koches. 
most powerful ruler in this part of India. The Buranjis are, 
for the most part, silent as to the cause of the war, but it com- 
menced in 1546 with the advance of a Koch force under the 
redoubtable Sukladhvaj alias Silarai, the king's brother and 
generalissimo, along the north bank of the Brahmaputra as 
far as the Dikrai river, where it was met by the Ahoms. A 
battle ensued in which the Koches, whose chief weapons were 



96 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

bows and arrows, succeeded in killing several of the Ahom 
leaders, whereupon the common soldiers fled and were pur- 
sued with great slaughter. The remnants of the Ahom army- 
assembled at Kharanga, whence they marched to Kaliabar, at 
which place a second, but less decisive, action was fought. 
The Ahoms then took up a new position at Sala, where 
they were again attacked by the Koches and put to flight, 
with the loss of twenty of their chief officers. No further 
attempt was made to dislodge the invaders, who were left in 
undisturbed possession of the country they had occupied. 
While engaged in these operations, they had been hurriedly 
constructing a great road, the whole way from their capital in 
Koch Bihar, to Narayanpur, in the south-west of what is now 
the North Lakhimpur subdivision. It was completed in the 
following year, and the main body of the Koch army then 
moved forward to Narayanpur which they fortified. Suklen- 
mung mustered all his available forces, and took up and 
fortified a position on the bank of the Pichala river. Their 
communications beiug thus threatened, the Koches were forced, 
either to retreat at once, or to assume the offensive. They 
chose the latter alternative, and attempted to take the Ahom 
entrenchments by storm. They were repulsed with heavy 
loss, and in the disorderly retreat which followed, large 
numbers were surrounded and killed. By this single victory 
Suklenmung regained the whole of his lost territory ; and he 
returned to his capital in triumph and performed the RiJckhvan 
ceremony. 
Earth- rp^g year 1548 was marked by a terrible earthquake. The 

earth opened in many places, and sand, ashes and pebbles 
were poured forth. In the same year Dighalmur Sandhikaj 
formed a conspiracy against the king. The plot was dis- 
covered and all the conspirators were put to death. Soon 
afterwards the Banpara Nagas invoked the aid of the Ahom 
king against the Banchang Nagas. This was given. The 
Banchang Nagas were defeated ; their chief was made prisoner, 
and a number of buffaloes and bison and much other booty 
fell into the hands of the victors. 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 97 

In 1552 the king died. He seems to have been always Sukl en- 
delicate, and his health had been failing for some time. J? un s' 8 
During his reign the Garhgaon tank was excavated ; the 
Naga Ali, which runs through the Gadhuli Bazar Mauza 
from the Bar Ali to the Naga hills, was constructed, and also 
the embankments at Kahikuchi, and Changinimukh. 

He was the 6rst Ahom ruler to strike coins, an innovation 
which, like many others, may be ascribed to the greater 
intercourse that now prevailed with the more civilized 
countries west of Assam. His coins, like those of his succes- 
sors, are octagonal, in accordance with a si oka in the Jogini 
Tantra which describes the Ahom country as of this shape. 
The legend is in the Ahom language and character. Those 
on the coins of later rulers, are usually, but not invariably, in 
Sanskrit. Instead of a date, the name of the year in the cycle 
is given, as explained in Appendix B.* 

Suklenmung was succeeded by his son Sukhampba, who Sukham- 
was also known as the Khora, or lame, Raja, owing to lj*» 
his having hurt his foot, while out hunting elephants, shortly ieo3. 
after his accession. A plot was formed against him by seven 
princes of the blood. They were caught but, on the interces- 
sion of the Bar Gohain, were released without punishment. 
This, for the Ahoms, unusual clemency failed to conciliate them. 
They rebelled again in 1559, and on this occasion they were 
all put to death. There was an expedition against the Aitonia 
Papuk and Khamteng Nagas in 1555. The enemy fled, and a 
large quantity of booty fell into the hands of the Ahoms, but, 
on their return journey, they fell into an ambuscade and lost 
a number of men. In 1560 a chief, who is described as the 
grandson of a Bhuiya named Pratap Rai, rose against the 
Ahoms and was joined by some other local chiefs, but he was 
defeated and slain in a battle fought near the mouth of the 
Dikhu river. 

The Burha Gohain, Aikhek, was appointed Commander-in- p,.^ 

Chief. In order to guard against fresh invasions from the Koch 

invasions. 
* A note on some Ahom coins Journal of the Asiatic Society of 
was contributed by me to the Bengal for 1895. 



98 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

west, elaborate fortifications were erected at Boka and Sala, 
and permanent garrisons were stationed at these places. In 
1562 a dispute arose with the Koches, who were accused 
of pillaging some villages in Ahom territory in the course of 
their operations against the Kacharis, and a Koch army under 
a general named Tipu ascended the Brahmaputra in boats 
as far as the mouth of the Dikhu. The Ahoms advanced 
against them in great strength, and the Koches fell back 
to the mouth of the Handia river, where an engagement took 
place in which the Ahoms appear to have been worsted. 

In the following January, Silarai himself took the field, and 
advanced with a large force up the Brahmaputra, as far as 
the mouth of the Dikhu. In the battle that ensued the 
Ahoms were routed. The king with his nobles fled to Charai- 
kharang in Namrup, while the Koches spread over the 
country and plundered the people in all directions. In some 
of the Buranjis the ineffectual resistance offered to Silarai is 
accounted for by the statement that the Ahom king was 
greatly alarmed by an adverse omen. While he was bathing, 
a kite (Sila) carried off one of his ornaments which was lying 
on the bank, and this was interpreted as foreboding the 
success of Silarai, " the king of the Kites. M After his victory 
Silarai entered Garhgaon, the capital, and pitched his camp 
there. 
Concla- Three months later, the Burha Gohain, Aikhek, was 

sion of deputed to sue for peace. This was granted on the f ollow- 
peace. .^ conditions, viz. : — the acknowledgment of the Koch 
supremacy, the cession of a considerable tract of country on 
the north bank, the delivery of a number of sons of the 
chief nobles as hostages, and the payment, as a war indemnity, 
of sixty elephants, sixty pieces of cloth and a large quantity 
of gold and silver. In the autumn, after these conditions had 
been complied with, Silarai returned to his own country, 
leaving a garrison at Narayanpur to hold the ceded territory 
on the north bank of the Brahmaputra. As soon as he had 
departed, Sukhampha proceeded to his capital, and at once 
took vigorous steps to repair losses and restore order. An 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 99 

enquiry was made into all the circumstances attending the 
reverses which the Ahoms had sustained, and the conclusion 
was arrived at that they were due to gross neglect to take 
proper steps for the defence of the country on the part of 
Aikhek the Burha Grohain, who was in consequence dismissed 
from his appointment. One Kankham was appointed in his 
place, and was given strict injunctions to repair the forts, 
mount cannon where necessary, and re-organize the military 
arrangements in such a way as to enable future invasions to 
be repelled. A strong fort was erected at the mouth of the 
Dikhu. Soon afterwards Narayanpur was recovered from the 
Koches. Sila was next occupied by a strong force, and a fort 
was constructed there. In 1564 the hostages taken by the 
Koch king were returned. The common tradition is that 
they obtained their freedom owing to the success of one of 
their number in a game of dice with Nar Narayan, but in a 
Buranji of the Koch kings it is said that the release of the 
hostages was decided on by Nar Narayan after his defeat 
by the Gaur Pasha, in order to obtain the Ahom king's 
friendship, and to avert an attack at a time when resistance 
would have been difficult. If this story can be relied on, it 
affords an explanation of the ease with which the Ahoms 
recovered their lost territory on the north bank. It is said 
that a number of Koch artisans accompanied the Ahom 
hostages on their return to their own country. 

In 1563 the Chutiyas made a raid in Namrup and Tipam Hostilities 
and the Tipam Raja fled, after his elephant had been wounded JS t » 
by arrows in three places. The Bar Sandhikai marched to and 
Sadiya and defeated the Chutiyas, killing a thousand of them, otn ers. 
and taking three thousand prisoners. In spite of this lesson, 
they raided again in 1572, when another punitive expedition 
was despatched, and heavy losses were again inflicted on them. 

In January 1563 a Dhekeri Raja invaded the country, 
accompanied by two sons of the Ahom Deka Raja, or heir- 
apparent, who had rebelled and gone to him for protection. 
He was attacked and defeated at Murabhaga, and fled in a 
boat, leaving his elephants, weapons, etc., to be captured by 

H 2 



100 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

the Ahoms. The heads of the slain were piled up in heaps at 
Kahikusi and Narayanpur. One of the sons of the Deka 
Raja was killed in the battle, and the other was taken prisoner 
and put to death. It is not clear who this Dhekeri Raja was* 
His name is variously given as Paman, Paran, and Thikmam 
The term Dhekeri (awkward) is now applied to the Assamese 
o£ Mangaldai and the Nowgong Chapari, but, at the period 
in question, the term appears to have been used to designate 
the inhabitants of the latter tract only. 

In the following month another expedition is recorded 
against a chief named Bhela Raja, whom also it is impossible 
to identify. He was defeated and captured, and his capital 
was occupied by the Ahoms. 

In July of the same year the Koch commander Tipu again 
led an invading force up the Brahmaputra. He halted on 
the bank of the river for two months, and was then attacked 
by the Ahoms and decisively beaten. The Koches gave no 
further trouble until 1570, when Tipu and one Bhitarual 
brought up an army. An Ahom force was despatched to 
repel it, and engaged the enemy at the mouth of the Dhansiri. 
The Koches were defeated, and fled with the loss of many 
men, boats and cannon. 

An expedition was undertaken in 1569 against a Naga 
named Phusenta, who was defeated and fled to Papuk. In 
1573 the country of the Aitonia Nagas was invaded and 
much booty was taken. 

In 1574 there was a virulent epidemic of small-pox in the 
course of which many people died. 
Nara In 1576 the Nara Raja of Mungkang advanced with an 

ar * army to Khamjang. The Ahoms entrenched themselves 
at Pangrao, but hostilities were averted by a treaty under 
which Sukhampha undertook to pay 16,000 rupees to the 
Nara Raja, who, in return, promised to give him his daughter 
in marriage. The money was paid, but the Nara Raja 
sent his sister, instead of his daughter, to Sukhampha, 
who thereupon deputed three men to abduct the daughter. 
They were caught, and, when the Nara Raja learnt that they 



THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 101 

had been despatched under Sukhampha's orders, he at once 
invaded Namrup. His troops defeated an Ahom army on 
the bank of the Kuram river, but were vanquished in a subse- 
quent engagement near the Sessa river and fled, hotly pursued 
by the Ahoms. 

In 1577 three men named Gabharu Naik, Bardado and Eelations 
Barkath rebelled against the Koch king Mar Narayan, but j-Ja!* 
failed in their attempt, and fled with 1,400 men to Sukham- 
pha, who accorded them his protection and settled them at 
Gajala. In 1585 a Koch king (apparently Lakshmi Narayan) 
gave his daughter Sankala in marriage to Sukhampha, with a 
d owry of two elephant?, seven horses and a hundred domes- 
tics. Sukhampha on his side presented him with twenty- 
two elephants and twelve horses. 

There was another bad earthquake in 1596. Hot water. Earth- 
sand and ashes were thrown up from below. One of the quak8, 
king's palaces collapsed and some of the men who were guard- 
ing it were crushed to death. 

Sukhampha died at Khowang in 1603 after a reign of SukhSm- 
51 years. During the earlier years of his reign, several plots ? .? 
were formed against him, but they were all detected in time. 
He married a number of wives, and there were various 
scandals in the royal harem. On one occasion three men were 
beheaded on account of an intrigue in which one of the queens 
was concerned. This monarch was very fond of sport, and 
was frequently present at the kkeddas when elephant catching 
operations were in progress. He was very unlucky in his 
palaces. One, which he built at Sonapur, was struck by 
lightning, and another at Salakhtali was destroyed by fire. 
The collapse of a third in the earthquake of 1596 has already 
been mentioned. Two unusual occurrences are recorded in 
this reign. In 1569 a swarm of locusts appeared and did 
great damage, and in 1570 there was a flood which destroyed 
the crops and caused something like a famine. 

The propagation of Vaishnava tenets was continued by the 
disciples of Sankar Deb and Madhab Deb, who wandered 
all over the country and founded numerous sattras. Many 



102 THE RISE OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

common people, and even some of the highest officials, openly 
joined the ranks of the Mahapurushias. 
Dates of From Sukapha to the accession of Khora Raja alias Sukham- 
£ in S» pha in 1552 A.D. there is complete agreement between the 
Khora Buranjis and the printed accounts of Kasinath, Robinson and 
Ja^adh- Gun abhiram. From the death of Jayadhvaj Singh in 1663 
vaj Singh. ^ ne y again agree, but the dates of the intermediate kings differ 
by several years in each case. According to Kasinath, from 
whom Robinson and Gunabhiram apparently drew their 
information, Sukhampha died after a reign of fifty-nine 
years, and was succeeded in 1611 by Pratap Singh, who was 
followed by Bhaga Raja in 1649, Naria Raja in 165& and 
Jayadhvaj Singh in 1654. The Buranjis, on the other 
hand, agree in ascribing to Sukhampa a reign of fifty-one 
years only, and place his death and Pratap Singh's accession 
in 1603, the accession of Bhaga Raja in 1641, that of Naria 
Raja in 1644, and that of Jayadhvaj Singh in 1648. I prefer 
to accept the dates given in the Buranjis because they are 
the original records, and are all in complete accord. It is 
much more likely that Kasinath made a mistake in compiling 
his account from original sources, than that he should have 
had access to records (all of which have now disappeared) 
which proved that the dates given in all the surviving 
Buranjis are wrong. Again, the Buranjis are very accurate 
in all the dates which can be tested by reference to Muham- 
madan histories, e.g., the Muhammadan wars of 1615, 1637 
and 1662, and their correctness in respect of other dates may 
therefore be relied on. It may be added that some of them 
are very detailed ; some event or other is narrated in almost 
every year of each reign, and the month and day of the 
month is also frequently stated. If the dates of accession 
were incorrect, all these dependent dates would also have to be 
rejected. Lastly, if Sukhampha did not die till 1611, he must 
have reigned for fifty- nine years, which would be an extraordi- 
narily long period for an eastern potentate to rule. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 103 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Susengpha, one of the late king's three sons, succeeded Suse-ag- 
him. Being already advanced in years when he became king, ?£* , . 
he was nicknamed the Burha Raja. He was also known as Singh), 
Buddha Swarga Narayan, on account of his great wisdom, :r?? to 
and as Pratap Singh, because of the great deeds done during 
his reign. The last is the name by which he is best known. 

Soon after his accession Jasa Manik, Raja of Jaintia, who Hosti- 
was on bad terms with the Kachari Baja, Pratap Narayan, ^ 6S w ^ n 
endeavoured to embroil the Ahom king by offering him his Kachari b. 
daughter on condition that he fetched her by a route which led 
through the Kachari country. Pratap Singh sent messengers 
to Pratap Narayan to ask for his assent, but the latter, 
having come to despise the power of the Ahoms since their 
defeat by Silarai, refused to give it, and shortly afterwards 
made a raid on a village inside the Ahom boundary. Incensed 
by his refusal and by the subsequent unprovoked aggression, 
Pratap Singh determined to clear a road by force. In June 
1606 he sent troops up the Kallang to Raha and thence up the 
Kopili, where they defeated a tributary chief of the Kacharis. 
They proceeded via Hanan to Satgaon and defeated the Kacha- 
ris at Dharamtika, capturing many guns, swords and spears. 
The main body of the Kacharis then retreated to Maibong, 
leaving a garrison in a fort at the junction of the Kopili and 
Maradoyang rivers. The Ahoms made an assault on this fort 
but were repelled. They entrenched themselves and sent word 
to Pratap Singh, who in October led a fresh force up the 
Dhansiri valley, and occupied a fortified position at Demalai. 
In November the Jaintia princess was successfully escorted 
from Jaintiapur to Raha, and thence to the Ahom country. 
Pratap Singh returned to his capital, and the bulk of his 
troops in Nowgong were withdrawn ; but a strong garrison 
was left at Raha in charge of a Gohain named Sundar. 



104 THE PERIOD OP THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 



Muham' 

madan 

invasion. 



The latter demanded tribute of the Kacharis and said that 
if they failed to pay he would attack Maibong itself. In the 
meantime Sundays son Akhek poisoned his mind against the 
king, and he became indifferent to his duties. The Kacharis, 
under Bhim Darpa, their king's eldest son, took advantage 
of the slackness, which now prevailed in the fort, to make a 
night attack, in which Sundar and many other Ahoms were 
killed, and the rest were put to flight. 

Pratap Singh was greatly enraged on receiving news of 
this disaster, but he foresaw the approach of renewed hostilities 
with the Muhammadans and was unwilling to weaken his 
resources by continuing the struggle with the Kachari king. 
He therefore sent him a pacific message and presents, and 
said that Sundar Gohain, in attacking him, had disobeyed 
orders. Pratap Narayan accepted the explanation and asked 
for an Ahom princess in marriage. He was given a daughter 
of one of the chief nobles, who was escorted by the Burha 
Gohain to his capital. Soon afterwards it became known 
that Akhek Gohain who, in the meantime, had been placed in 
command at Dikhumukh, was partly responsible for the 
disaster at Raha. Being dismissed from his post, he began 
to tamper with the local chiefs on the north bank of the 
Brahmaputra, who are said to have offered to make him their 
king, but, at the last moment, his courage failed him and he 
fled, first to Parikshit, ruler of the western Koch kingdom, 
and then to the Muhammadan governor of Bengal. 

In 1608 Pratap Singh obtained in marriage Mangaldahi, 
the daughter of the Koch king Parikshit. He gave twenty- 
three elephants to Parikshit, and the latter sent with his 
daughter six families of domestics and twenty female slaves. 

In 1615 Bali Narayan, the brother of Parikshit, who had 
just been defeated by the Muhammadans, as narrated in the 
account of the Koch kings, fled for shelter to Pratap Singh, 
who received him cordially.* About the same time a 
Musalman trader was murdered near Koliabar, on suspicion 

* The best Muhammadan account the Pddishdhndmah, II, pp. 64 ff. 
of these operations is contained in 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 105 

of being a spy, and his two boats were looted. About this 
time Shekh Alauddin Fathpuri Islam Khan, the governor 
of Bengal, died and was succeeded by his brother Shekh 
Qasim. Mukarram Khan, who had been appointed governor 
of the country taken from Parikshit, with head-quarters at 
Hajo, quarrelled with Qasim and resigned his office. The 
latter then sent Saiad Hakim, an imperial officer, and Saiad 
Aba Bakr with upwards of ten thousand horse and foot and 
four hundred large ships to Hajo, and ordered them to invade 
the Ahom country. They were accompanied by Sattrajit, 
the son of a zamindar living near Dacca, who had fought in 
the army sent against Parikshit and, as a reward for his 
services, had been made thanadar of Pandu and Gauhati. 
Akhek Gohain also went with the expedition. 

The Ahoms advanced to the mouth of the Bharali to 
resist the invaders, but the latter, having taken advantage of 
a fog to cross their horses over the river in boats, won the first 
battle. They did not follow up their victory, and another 
Ahom army soon readied the Bharali. Its commander was 
afraid to attack, and remained inactive, in spite of stringent 
orders to the contrary from Pratap Singh. He was super- 
seded, and his successor, acting on the advice of Akhek 
Gohain, who had deserted from the enemy on receiving a 
promise of pardon, surprised the Muhammadans in a night 
attack, both by land and water, and totally defeated them. 
The fugitives were overtaken and surrounded, and Saiad 
Aba Bakr and many other leaders were captured and put to 
death. Sattrajit's son, who was also taken, was sacrificed to 
the goddess Kamakhya. The heads of the slain were piled 
up in heaps. An immense amount of booty fell into the 
hands of the Ahoms, including elephants, horses, and a large 
number of warships, boats, cannon, guns and other munitions 
of war. Pratap Singh returned to his capital in triumph 
and performed the Rikkhvan ceremony. 

Bali Narayan was now installed as tributary Eaja of 
Darrang, with the title Dharma Narayan. His capital was 
established at a place on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, 



Raj 



106 THE PERIOD OP THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

which formed part of Darrang, as the term was then under- 
stood. The promise of pardon made to Akhek was after- 
wards revoked, and he suffered the death penalty. The 
author of the Padishahnamah says that this disaster led to 
the deposition of Qasim Khan from his office as governor of 
Bengal. 
History In November, 1617, Pratap Singh advanced with an 

J* army towards Hajo, accompanied by Bali Narayan and 

other chiefs, who made their submission to him as he 
advanced. Amongst their number was the Dimarua Raja, 
and the opportunity may be taken to give a brief outline of 
his history. His ancestor Panthesvar was originally a 
tributary chief of the Kacharis, but, owing to their oppres- 
sion, he fled with his followers to Nar Narayan, who estab- 
lished him on the Jaintia frontier with jurisdiction over a 
tract inhabited by about 18,000 people. His son Chakradhvaj 
was imprisoned for neglecting to pay tribute, but was 
released on the intercession of Raghu Deb, the king's 
nephew, and was restored to his principality when the latter 
became the ruler of the eastern Koch kingdom. His 
descendants, Poal Singh, Ratnakar and Prabhakar paid tribute 
to Parikshit. The Jaintia Raja, Dhan Manik, subsequently 
arrested Prabhakar and confined him in Jaintiapur ; he invoked 
the aid of the Kachari king who demanded his release and, 
failing to obtain it, attacked Dhan Manik and defeated him. 
Prabhakar's son Man gal, who succeeded him, sought and 
obtained the protection of the Ahoms. It was well for him 
that he did so, as it was shortly afterwards the means of 
saving him from capture by the Kachari king Bhimbal. 
Pratap Accompanied by these chiefs, Pratap Singh attacked and 

S H°\ took Pandu, which he fortified ; and the Musalmans, after 
the sustaining a defeat at Agiathuti, retreated to Hajo. Their 

Muham- comman der Abdussalam reported the state of affairs to the 
Nawab of Dacca, and asked for help, and his brother 
Muhiuddin was sent to his assistance with a thousand horse, 
a thousand matchlock men and over two hundred boats and 
war sloops. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 107 

Meanwhile the A horns continued to occupy the positions 
which they had already taken up. Their instructions were to 
postpone further action until the receipt of orders from the 
king", but the appearance of a few Muhamniadan horse soldiers 
was too much for some of the hot-headed commanders, and 
they pursued them to Hajo. This place was then assaulted on 
all sides, by the Ahoms in front, and in the rear by the local 
levies led by Dharma Narayan and a chief named Jadu, who is 
called by some writers a Chutiya and by others a Kachari. The 
attack failed; and the Ahoms retreated to Srighat, closely 
followed by the Muhammadans, who defeated them in several 
engagements. The Burha Gohain was taken prisoner; a 
large number of soldiers were killed and wounded, and many 
ships and guns were captured by the enemy. On receiving 
news of this disaster, Pratap Singh ordered his scattered 
forces to collect at Samdhara. An enquiry was made, and 
the officers responsible for the neglect of the king's orders 
were beheaded or starved to death. Langi Panisiya, who 
had distinguished himself by rallying the fugitive soldiers 
and restoring order amongst them, was rewarded by being 
given the newly-created post of Bar Phukan, or governor of 
the conquered provinces west of Koliabar. 

In September, 1619, hostilities were renewed by the 
Musalmans, who besieged Dharma Narayan in his fort on 
the south bank of the Brahmaputra. An Ahom force was 
sent to his assistance and took up a position near that of the 
Muhammadans. For six weeks the two armies faced each 
other. The Ahoms then forced an engagement, in which 
the Muhammadans were worsted ; large numbers were killed, 
and the rest fled to Hajo, leaving ten cannon, fifty guns and 
many other weapons, as well as some horses, buffaloes and 
cattle, in the hands of the Ahoms. After the battle, Dharma 
Narayan and a number of frontier chiefs, including those of 
Dimarua and Hojai, again made their submission to Pratap 
Singh. The latter, it is said, endeavoured to induce the Raja 
of Koch Bihar to make common cause with him against the 
Muhammadans, but his overtures were rejected. 



108 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMAD AN WARS. 

Peace Both parties now seem to have grown tired of the war ; 

overtures an( ^ Laksnnri Narayan, Raja of Koch Bihar, with the consent 
Muham- of the Nawab of Dacca; sent one Biro Kazi to Pratap Singh 
madans. £ g er j^g services as mediator. Biro Kazi was kept in 
confinement, but the news of the effort to open negotiations 
reached Sattrajit, the Thanadar of Pandu. This man's 
loyalty to the Muhammadans was doubtful ; and he had for 
some time evaded the payment of the stipulated tribute. 
He was afraid of what would happen to himself if the 
Muhammadans were to make peace with the Ahoms, and he 
accordingly sent men to Langi Bar Phukan to signify his 
desire to be accepted as his friend. He exchanged presents 
with Pratap Singh and sent his five-year old son to pay him 
homage. But Sattrajit was a traitor by nature, and, as he 
had been false to the Muhammadans, so now he intrigued 
with the officials of the Ahoms. The Nawab of Dacca sent 
fresh messengers to Pratap Singh, but the Bar Phukan, at 
Sattrajit's instigation, misrepresented the object of their visit, 
and they were accordingly sent back 'without obtaining an 
audience of the king. 

At this juncture, one Masu Gobind, after conspiring against 
the king, fled to Luki. Sattrajit promised to arrest him, but, 
instead of doing so, he gave him warning and allowed him to 
escape to Bengal. This greatly enraged Pratap Singh, and he 
sent orders to the Bar Phukan to seize Sattrajit. A meeting 
was arranged, and the two met on the island of Umananda, 
opposite Gauhati. They embraced each other and exchanged 
presents. The Bar Phukan then allowed Sattrajit, who had 
gained a considerable influence over him, to depart without 
attempting to effect his arrest. The king, being informed 
of this, and also of the Bar Phukau's duplicity in the matter of 
the envoys from Dacca, caused him to be chained in a 
dungeon, where he was left to starve to death. Neog 
succeeded him as Bar Phukan, and the war came to an end. 
Another After some years, the relations of the Ahoms with the 

expedi- Nawab again became strained. The author of the Padishah- 
namoh blames Sattrajit for this, saying that, on the 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 109 

occasion of Islam Khan's appointment to Bengal, he made 
common cause with Baldeo, alias Dharma Narayan, and insti- 
gated him to profit by the change of governors and push 
forward his boundary, so as to include the south-eastern 
parganas of the modern district of Goalpara. There were 
also other causes of friction. Some Muhammadan subjects 
were killed in Ahom territory, but Pratap Singh disclaimed 
all knowledge of the occurrence and refused to give redress. 
A defaulting fiscal officer under the Nawab, named Harikesh, 
was given shelter by Pratap Singh, who refused to surrender 
him, alleging that the Nawab had similarly taken under his 
protection fugitives from his kingdom. This led to a fresh 
war. A force was despatched in 1635 to seize Harikesh by 
force, but it was opposed by the Ahoms and defeated near the 
Bharali river. 

Pratap Singh now determined to carry the war into The 
the enemy's territory. He sent presents to the chiefs of Ahoms as- 
Dimarua, Hojai, Barduar and other frontier tracts and offensive, 
induced them to join him.* He also succeeded in at- 
taching to his cause the chiefs of about ten thousand 
soldier cultivators, or pdiks, who had been settled by Qasim 
Khan in Kamrup. His troops soon reduced the Muham- 
madan forts at Deomiha Bantikot, Chamaria and Nagarbera, 
after which they entrenched themselves at Paringa, on the 
bank of the Kulsi river, and at Niubiha, which had been 
evacuated by the Muhammadan garrison on their approach. 
In the course of these operations a Musalman general and 
many soldiers were killed and a great quantity of booty was 
captured. Hajo was now invested, and the Muhammadans 
were defeated in several engagements, in one of which they 
lost 360 cannon and guns, as well as other stores.t 



# The chiefs of the Duirs enu- Sattrajit now sued for peace and 

merated by K&sinath include those there was a cessation of hostilities 

of Rani, Luki, Bako, Bagai, Ban- for some months, but there is no 

gaon, Chhaygaon, Pantun, Bardu- mention of this in the Muham- 

ar, BholagSon and Mayapur. madan accounts of the war. 

\ According to the Buranjis, 



110 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMAD AN WARS. 

Rein- I n the meantime, Abdussalam, the Musalman governor 

force- of Hajo, had sent an urgent request for reinforcements to 
sent from ^ ne Nawab, Islam Khan, who despatched to his assistance 
Dacca. one thousand horse and one thousand match-lock men, under 
Said Zainul-abidm, together with two hundred and ten war 
sloops and boats and a large supply of ammunition, weapons 
and money. On the arrival of these reinforcements, it was 
arranged that Abdussalam should remain in occupation of 
Hajo, whilst Zainul-abidm endeavoured to push his ships as 
far as Srighat in order to keep the Ahoms at bay. The first 
engagement was fought a little to the west of Pandu, and the 
Ahoms, who had left their fortified camps and advanced to 
the attack, were defeated, after a severe fight, with the loss of 
four ships and a few cannon. The Bar Phukan's son, who 
commanded the Ahom troops, was shot whilst trying to 
rally his men. Their two camps were promptly destroyed by 
the Muhammadans, and two days later they were driven 
from Agiathuti. Their fort at Srighat was then besieged. For 
three days they kept the Muhammadans at bay, but, on the 
arrival of twenty sloops with fresh troops, the latter renewed 
the attack, and the Ahoms, whose ammunition was running 
short, were forced to retreat. When the news of these reverses 
reached Pratap Singh, he at once despatched strong reinforce- 
ments. On their arrival, the Ahoms once more advanced and 
drove the Muhammadan fleet back to Sualkuchi. It is recorded 
in one of the Buranjis that a Feringi, or European, in 
the service of the Muhammadans, who had gone off by 
himself to shoot birds, was captured and sent to the Ahom 
king. This is the first instance recorded of a European 
entering Ahom territory. At this juncture, the branch of the 
Brahmaputra which flows past Hajo dried up, and as this 
rendered mutual succour in case of attack impossible, Abdus- 
salam sent orders to Zainul-abidin to join him at Hajo. This 
he did, leaving the fleet in charge of Muhammad Salih 
Kambu, Sattrajit and Majlis Bayazid. 
Muham- The same night the Ahoms, with nearly five hundred 

SJJfkfJ. ships, attacked the hostile fleet and gained a decisive victory. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. Ill 

Muhammad Salih was killed, Bayazld was made prisoner, and dri- 
and the greater part of the fleet fell into the hands of the Y en from 
victors. This disaster is ascribed by the author of the 
Padishahnamafi to the perfidy of Sattrajit, who is accused of 
having informed the Ahoms of the departure of the Muham- 
madan leader, and of having" retired with his own ships as 
soon as the attack began. The Ahom chroniclers state that 
three hundred boats of all sizes and three hundred cannon 
and guns were captured, as well as other spoils. 

Hajo was now closely invested by the Bar Phukan and 
Dharma Narayan. All supplies were cut off, and the 
defenders were reduced to great straits. They made several 
unsuccessful sallies, in one of which Abdussalam was 
wounded. For some time they subsisted on their pack 
bullocks and camels, but at last, when these had dis- 
appeared, Abdussalam agreed to surrender, and he and 
his brother went to the Ahom camp with a considerable 
portion of his forces. They were at once arrested and 
taken before Pratap Singh, who ordered them to be sent 
up-country. The leaders were settled at Silpani and other 
places, and were given land and slaves, while the common 
soldiers were distributed as slaves among the Baruas, 
Phukans and other Ahom nobles. Saiad Zainul-abidin, with 
the rest of the garrison, refused to give in. They made a 
gallant attempt to force their way through the enemy, but 
were all killed. 

A great quantity of loot was taken at Hajo, including 
two thousand guns and seven hundred horses. The brick 
buildings which the Muhammadans had erected were all 
levelled with the ground. It subsequently transpired that, 
while they were besieged in Hajo, the Muhammadan leaders, 
with a view to obtaining favourable terms of surrender, had 
sent to the Bar Phukan, for transmission to the king, a 
number of pearls and other valuable articles, and that these 
had been misappropriated by the Bar Phukan, who had also 
taken fifty families of weavers from Sualkuchi and settled 
them in the northern part of his own jurisdiction instead 



112 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

of sending them to Upper Assam. For these offences he was 
arrested and put to death. 

The remaining Musalman garrisons in Kamrup were 
attacked and captured in turn, and, in a great part of the 
Goalpara district also, the Muhammadan yoke was thrown 
off. Chandra Narayan, a son of the Koch king Parikshit 
and the founder of the Bijni family, with the aid of a 
detachment of Ahom troops sent to him by Pratap Singh, 
established himself at Hatsila in Karaibari, on the south 
bank of the Brahmaputra. Many of the zamindars on the 
north bank made their submission to the Ahoms. 
But a Before these events occurred, the Nawab of Dacca had 

„^1„ collected fifteen hundred horse and four thousand matchlock 

{inny 

from men, together with large stores of grain, ammunition, weapons 

r T^e an( ^ monev J an( ^ Proposed to march in person to the relief of 

their as- Abdussalam. But his presence being required in Dacca, he 

cendency. entrusted the command of the expedition to his brother Mir 

Zainuddin, who set out with an escort of twenty-five war 

sloops. The long river journey was slow and tedious ; and 

before he was able to reach Assam, the events already 

described had taken place. The news of these disasters did not 

dismay him, and he at once took vigorous steps to restore 

the Muhammadan supremacy in Lower Assam. According 

to some accounts, he was accompanied by Pran Narayan, 

Raja of Koch Bihar. He marched against Chandra Narayan, 

who fled without waiting to be attacked, and all the Goalpara 

zamindars on the south bank of the river submitted. 

He then crossed to the north bank and, after obtaining 
the submission of the leading zamindars, retraced his steps 
to Dhubri, where he found Sattrajit and some convoy ships 
which he had managed to detain. Having obtained clear 
proof of Sattra jit's treachery on various occasions, he 
arrested him and sent him to Dacca, where he was imprisoned 
and afterwards executed. 

Meanwhile the Ahoms were preparing to resist his 
advance up the river. They collected a force of twelve 
thousand foot, including their Koch auxiliaries, and a 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 113 

numerous fleet. They took up a position at Jogighopa on the 
north bank of the Brahmaputra and at Hirapur on the oppo- 
site side of the river, their fleet being anchored in mid- stream 
between these two forts. Several engagements took place, 
and in the end the Ahoms were defeated. In one of these 
fights Chandra Narayan was killed. The Muhammadans 
then crossed the Monas,* and encamped at Chandankot 
for the rainy season, when it was impossible to carry out 
extended operations on land. Their forces had by this 
time been considerably augmented by the remnants of the 
old garrisons and by the levies of the local zamindars, who 
returned to their allegiance as Zainuddin advanced. In 
the Buranjis his army is spoken of as " a great host," but 
its actual strength is not stated. A flying column of five 
thousand men was despatched, under Muhammad Zaman, the 
Faujdar of Sylhet, to eject the Ahoms from the south bank ; 
and when this had been accomplished, the same officer was 
sent with a strong detachment to reinstate Uttam Narayan 
in his zamindari at Barnagar on the Monas, whence he had 
been driven by three thousand Ahoms and Koches. He 
crossed the Pomari river and advanced towards Barnagar, 
whereupon the Ahoms withdrew to Chothri at the foot of 
the Bhutan Hills. Muhammad Zaman now entrenched 
himself at Bishenpur to await the close of the rainy season 
and get his war material into order. Soon afterwards, the 
Ahoms, having received reinforcements which brought their 
strength up to forty thousand men, advanced to the 
Kalapani, about three miles from his encampment, and 
threw up entrenchments. They made several night attacks 
on the Muhammadans and, by erecting palisades all round 
their camp, cut off: all their supplies. No regular engagement 
occurred until the close of the rains, when the main body 
of the Muhammadans left Chandankot and marched on 



* In the Muhammadan records Report on the Eastern Frontier 
this river is called Banas ; in the it is written both ways, 
map attached to Pemberton's 



114 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS, 



Ahom 
army- 
defeated 
at 
Barepaita 



and their 
navv at 
Srighat. 



Bishenpur. The Ahom generals, seeing the advisability of 
doing something before the two hostile forces could effect a 
junction, and having received an additional reinforcement of 
twenty thousand men, made an attack in force on Muham- 
mad Zaman's position. This was on the night of the 31st of 
October 1637. They carried two of his stockades, but next 
morning he again drove them out and, attacking in his turn, 
took in succession fifteen stockades which had been erected 
by them. They retreated to Pomari, with the loss of four 
thousand men and several generals, as well as a number of 
matchlocks and other weapons.* 

The Muhammadans now united their forces and, three 
weeks later, made an attack from three different directions on 
the Ahom army, which had entrenched itself at Barepaita. 
The Ahoms ran short of ammunition and sustained a 
crushing defeat ; a very large number were killed, including 
several of the leaders, and many others were made prisoners 
and were subsequently put to death. The pursuit continued 
as long as daylight lasted. The scattered remnant fled to 
Srighat, where Pratap Singh was encamped with the fleet 
and the heavy baggage. 

After this decisive victory the Muhammadans advanced 
to Pandu. They captured the Ahom fort at Agiathuti in spite 
of a furious but ineffectual cannonade. Srighat was next 
taken, and a naval engagement took place, which was every 
whit as disastrous to the Ahoms as the land battle at 
Barepaita. Nearly five hundred sloops and three hundred 
guns fell into the hands of the victors. The Kajali fort at 
the mouth of the Kallang was also captured, but it was soon 



* The above account of the oper- 
ations of Muhammad Zaman in 
the direction of Barnagar follows 
that given in the Padishahndmn h, 
which is also my authority for the 
strength of the Ahom forces en- 
gaged. According to the Bwanjis, 
the Muhammadans retreated on the 
arrival of the Hrst Ahom reinforce- 
ments and occupied three positions 
at Jakhslikhana, Bhabanipur, and 



Bhatftkuchi. The Ahoms entrench- 
ed themselves at the Kalapfini and 
succeeded in reducing the forts at 
Jakhalikhana and Bhabanipur. 
They also captured Bhatakuchi, 
but the next morning it was re- 
taken by the Muhammadans after 
a very sanguinary encounter in 
which many soldiers perished on 
both sides. The Ahoms then re- 
treated to Pomari, 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 115 

afterwards retaken by the Dimarua Raja and a chief named 
Hari Deka. Pratap Singh sent a small force to assist them 
in holding it, and they succeeded in doing so, until they 
allowed themselves to be drawn into an action on open ground. 
They were then defeated, and fled to Koliabar, which was 
now the rallying point for the Ahom forces. 

When the news of this defeat reached the Ahom king, 
he was so much alarmed that he prepared for flight to the 
hills and removed his valuables from the capital ; he also put 
to death the Muhammadan leaders who had been made 
prisoners in previous battles. 

The Muhammadans now sent a detachment in pursuit of 
Dharma Narayan, who was reduced to great straits and fled 
to Singiri Parbat, where he and his two sons were eventually 
killed. During the next three months, the Muhammadans 
consolidated their rule in Kamrup and effected a financial 
settlement of the country. Mir Nurullah of Harat was 
appointed Thanadar, with his head-quarters at Gauhati. 

In 1638 a Muhammadan force, accompanied by Pran Unsuc* 
Narayan, the Raja of Koch Bihar, ascended the Brahmaputra -Jvasioii 
and encamped at the mouth of the Bharali. The Ahoms of Upper 
entrenched themselves on the opposite bank. Hostilities As8am ' 
continued for some time, but eventually the invaders were 
defeated and retired to Gauhati. It is stated in some of the 
Buranjis that, in order to gain time, the Ahoms made 
proposals of peace, and offered to supply elephants, aloes wood 
and other articles. An armistice was granted to permit 
of the king being consulted ; in the meantime the entrench- 
ments were completed, and the Bar Barua, who was in 
command, then informed the Muhammadans that he would 
sooner fight than agree to pay tribute. After their victory, 
the Ahoms reoccupied Kajali, but the prolonged campaign 
had exhausted their resources and they were unable to con- 
tinue the war. 

A treaty was therefore negotiated, under which the Bar Conclu- 
Nadi, on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, and the 8 * on °* 
Asurar AH, on the south, were fixed as the boundary between 



116 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

the Ahom and the Muhammadan territories. During the 
next twenty years, the country west of this boundary line 
remained in the undisputed possession of the Muhammadans, 
and traces of the system of administration introduced by 
them survive to this day. 
Eolations Tn e Kachari king, Bhimbal, died in 1637 and was sue- 
Kacharis. ceeded by his son Indra Ballabh, who sent envoys to Pratap 
Singh to enlist his friendship. His advances were coldly 
received, as it was thought that his letter was not couched on 
sufficiently respectful terms. This, like all subsequent com- 
munications between the two nations, was carried via Koliabar 
and not by the old route along the valley of the Dhansiri. 
That valley had been depopulated in the course of the 
repeated wars, and it was already becoming overgrown with 
the jungle which now forms the Nambar forest. 
Pratsp Pratap Singh died in the year 1641 after a reign of 38 

Sigh's years. He was a capable, energetic and ambitious prince ; 
character an( ^^ although a great part of his reign was distracted by wars 
and mis- with the Kacharis and Muhammadans, he was still able to 
events of devote much attention to the internal organization of his 
reign. kingdom, the development of backward tracts and the con- 
struction of roads, embankments and tanks. There were several 
conspiracies during the first few years after his accession, 
which were repressed with the ferocious severity customary 
amongst the Ahoms. The petty chiefs or Bhuiyas, who 
occupied the tract on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, 
between the Bharali and the Subansiri, had discontinued the 
payment of tribute from the time of the Koch invasion under 
Sukladhvaj ; and in 1623 one of their number named Uday 
declared himself independent and was joined by several other 
chiefs. He was arrested and executed, and Pratap Singh 
took the opportunity to break the power of the Bhuiyas for 
ever. He transferred them and their principal supporters 
to various places on the south bank of the Brahmaputra and 
forbade them to cross to the north bank on any pretext what- 
soever ; a number of men who, disregarding this order, went 
there to rear cocoons were put to death, 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 117 

A census of the people was taken ; and, where this had not 
already been done, they were divided off into clans, and officers 
were appointed over them. To protect the country on the 
Kachari frontier, four hundred families of Ahoms from 
Abhaypur, Dihing and Namdang were settled around 
Marangi. A number of families from the more thickly 
inhabited parts of Lower Assam were transferred to some of 
the sparsely populated tracts higher up the river, and the 
immigration of artisans of all kinds was encouraged. The 
country round the Dihing was opened out by roads to 
Charaideo and Dauka. The towns of Abhaypur and Mathura- 
pur were built ; Jamirguri was surrounded by an embankment, 
and the palace at Garhgaon was protected in the same way. 
The want of an embankment as a line of defence having been 
experienced at the time of the Koch invasion under 
Sukladhvaj, the Ladaigarh was constructed with this object. 
Another embankment known as the Dopgarh was thrown up 
as a means of protection against Naga raids, and no Naga was 
permitted to cross it, unless accompanied by a peon or kataki. 
Pratap Singh had also proposed to construct an embankment 
along the Kachari frontier, but refrained, upon the represent- 
ation of his nobles, who urged that his kingdom in this 
direction was a growing one, and that it was inadvisable 
to do anything which would tend to confine it within fixed 
limits. 

In order to stop the acts of oppression committed by the 
Miris and Daflas, katakis were appointed to watch them and 
keep the authorities informed of their movements. In this 
connection, however, it should be mentioned that in 1615, 
when reprisals were attempted after a raid perpetrated by 
these hillmen, the Ahom forces were obliged to beat a retreat. 

Forts were erected at Samdhara, Safrai and Sita and many 
other places. A stone bridge was built over the Darika river, 
and many bamboo bridges were constructed. Numerous 
markets were established, and trade flourished greatly during 
the interval of peace between the two great wars with the 
Muhammadans. 



118 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Like many of his predecessors, Pratap Singh was much 
addicted to elephant hunting*, and was frequently present at 
the kheddas. His ambition was to be the owner of a thousand 
elephants. When he had obtained this number, he assumed 
the title Gajpati (lord of elephants) and caused the town of 
Jamirguri to be renamed Gajpur in commemoration of the 
event. This circumstance is alluded to in the Padishahnamah, 
where he is described as " an infidel who has a thousand 
elephants and a hundred thousand foot." 

He kept a close eye on all branches of the administration 
and maintained his authority with a firm and heavy hand ; 
punishment was meted out to all, even to the highest nobles, 
who were unfortunate enough to incur his displeasure. Some 
instances of his severity have already been given. Amongst 
others, the case of the Bharali Barua may be mentioned. 
This man enjoyed the king's confidence to a very unusual 
degree, but he was nevertheless sentenced to death on proof 
of embezzlement and other misconduct. 

During his reign the influence of the Brahmans increased 
considerably. The Somdeo was still worshipped ; and before 
a battle, it was still the practice to call upon the Deodhais or 
tribal priests to tell the omens by examining the legs of 
fowls.* This, however, did not prevent the king from 
encouraging Hindu priests. When the tank at Misagarh 
was completed, Brahmans were called in to consecrate it ; 
temples for the worship of Siva were erected under the king's 
orders at Dergaon and Bishnath, and grants of land were 
made for the maintenance of Brahmans and of Hindu 
temples. It is recorded, however, that, on one occasion, shortly 
after gifts had been distributed to the Brahmans, a son of the 
king died, and Pratap Singh was so enraged in consequence 
that, for a time, he persecuted them, and even put some of 
them to death. 



m * The Ahoms were most super- left the house he was residing in 
stitious, and on several occasions it merely because a screech owl had 
is narrated that the king hastily perched on it. 






THE PERIOD OF* THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 119 

At the instigation of the Brahmans the Mahapurushias, 
whose tenets were rapidly gaining ground, were subjected to 
much persecution and several of their Qosains or priests were 
put to death. 

The Ahom language continued to be the medium of con- 
versation between the king and his nobles, but Hindus were 
often appointed as katakis, or envoys, in preference to Ahoms, 
who were sometimes found wanting in intelligence. 

Among the miscellaneous events of this reign may be 
mentioned a bad outbreak of cattle disease in 1618, which 
carried off many cows and buffaloes, and a flight of locusts in 
1641, which spread all over the country from west to east, 
and caused such widespread devastation that a famine resulted 
from it. A great deal of damage was done by lightning ; 
two palaces were destroyed in this way and also the house in 
which the Somdeo were kept, the temple at Eishnath and 
the king's elephant house or Pilkhdna. 

The following interesting remarks on the Ahoms of this 
period are extracted from the Padishah" amah* : " The 
inhabitants shave the head and clip off beard and whiskers. 
They eat every land and water animal. They are very black 
and loathsome in appearance. The chiefs travel on elephants 
or country ponies ; but the army consists only of foot soldiers. 
The fleet is large and well fitted out. The soldiers use bows 
and arrows and matchlocks, but do not come up in courage 
to the Muhammadan soldiers, though they are very brave in 
naval engagements. On the march they quickly and dexter- 
ously fortify their encampments with mud walls and bamboo 
palisades, and surround the whole with a ditch/' 

During his mortal illness, Pratap Singh was attended by Bhagft 

his three sons Surampha, Sutyinpha and Sai. The last ™JJ* 

mentioned, who was the youngest, collected a number of pha), 

armed men in readiness to seize his brothers and force his *5ft te 

1644. 
way to the throne as soon as his father died, but the eldest, 

Surampha, after obtaining the support of his brother 
* Apud Blochmann, J. A. S.B., 1872, page 55. 



120 THE PERIOD OP THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Sutyinpha, by saying that he himself was childless and 
promising to make him his heir, closed the gates of the city 
and disarmed and ejected the conspirators. 

On Pratap Singh's death, the chief nobles offered the 
throne to Sutyinpha, but he remained true to his word and 
refused to accept it over the head of his elder brother. Suram- 
pha was accordingly saluted as king. Soon afterwards Sai 
conspired against him and was arrested and put to death. 

Surampha was a man altogether destitute of the ordinary 
principles of morality. He first cohabited with one of his 
father's wives. Subsequently he fell in love with a married 
woman of the Chetia clan and, having caused her husband to 
be poisoned, took her to his harem. She adopted a nephew 
of her first husband, and this youth was declared heir- 
apparent by the king, who thereby broke the promise he had 
made to Sutyinpha at the time of his accession. The boy died 
soon afterwards, and one of Sutyinpha's sons was accused of 
having poisoned him. Sutyinpha was accordingly ordered to 
surrender him to be executed, and was deprived of all his 
possessions. At the same time the king, at the instigation of 
his paramour, called upon each of the chief nobles to furnish 
a son for burial with his adopted child. Whether this order 
was actually carried into effect is not clear, but the result of 
it was to exasperate the nobles beyond endurance. Overtures 
were made to Sutyinpha, who agreed, though very reluctantly, 
to supersede his brother. The city was entered by a body of 
armed men, and Surampha, who was taken completely by sur- 
prise, was deposed and removed to a remote place in the hills, 
where he was eventually poisoned. Owing to his deposition, 
he is generally known as the Bhaga Raja. 

The only occurrences in his reign worthy of mention are 
the construction of the Salaguri Road and the ignominious 
expulsion of some Kachari envoys, who came to offer their 
king's congratulations on the occasion of his accession, 
because the letter which they brought was sealed with the 
seal of a Singh, and not of a Phukan, i.e., of an independent 
ruler and not a subordinate chief. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 121 

There was a heavy flood in 1642, in which many cattle 
were washed away and drowned. Several earthquakes occurred 
in the same year. 

The practice of burying* persons in the graves of deceased Ahom 
notabilities was common amongst the Ahoms ; and the dis- CU8 t oms . 
satisfaction which led to Surampha's downfall was due, not 
to his following the old practice, but to the status of the 
proposed victims. When Pratap Singh's mother died, he 
entombed with her four elephants, ten horses and seven men. 
An account of the Ahom funeral customs is given in the 
Fathiyah i 'Ibriyah, from which the following extract is 
taken:— "They bury their dead with the head towards 
the east, and the feet towards the west. The chiefs erect 
vaults for their dead, kill the women and servants of the 
deceased, and put into the vaults necessaries of various kinds, 
such as elephants, gold and silver vessels, carpets, clothes and 
food. They fix the head of the corpse rigidly with poles, and 
put a lamp with plenty of oil, and a torch-bearer alive into 
the vault to look after the lamp. Ten such vaults were 
opened by order of the Nawab, and property worth about 
90,000 rupees was recovered."" 

According to Colonel Dalton, this account of the burial 
of Ahom magnates has been confirmed by more recent dis- 
coveries. He says :— " About twenty years ago, several 
mounds, known to be the graves of Ahom kings, were opened 
and were [found to contain, not only the remains of the 
kings, but of slaves, male and female, and of animals that 
had been immolated to serve their masters in Hades ; 
also gold arid silver vessels, food, raiment, arms, etc., were 
not wanting./'' 

Sutyinpba, who now ascended the throne, was usually Nariya 
known as the Nariya (sick) Raja on account of his indifferent ^ a 3 a 
health ; he suffered from curvature of the spine, whence the yi np ha), 
nickname Kekora (crooked) was also sometimes applied to 1 644 to 
him. His installation was effected with great pomp. 
Amongst other amusements provided to celebrate the occa- 
sion, the people were entertained with the spectacle of fights 



122 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

between elephants, between an elephant and a tiger, and 
between a tiger and a crocodile. His first act was to put to 
death certain officials who were suspected of being opposed to 
his usurpation of the throne. Soon afterwards one of his 
wives, who was the sister of the Burha Gohain, persuaded him 
that the son of his chief queen was conspiring with her 
father, the Barpatra Gohain. The son in question was 
invited to dinner by the king and treacherously put to death. 
The Barpatra Gohain was also executed, and his daughter was 
deposed from her position as chief queen. This rank was then 
conferred on the woman who had made the mischief. She 
afterwards tried to poison the king's mind against another 
of his sons, named Khahua Gohain, and instigated an 
unsuccessful attempt to murder him. 
Expedi- In June 1646, an expedition was sent to subjugate the 

tions Daflas * The troops ascended the Dikrang and looted several 
the villages, but they were much harassed by the Daflas, who 

Daflas. fought with bows and arrows, and eventually retreated without 
achieving their object. The king was so enraged at the 
failure of the expedition that he dismissed the Burha Gohain 
and Barpatra Gohain, who were in command, and, to complete 
their disgrace, made them appear in public in female attire. 
In the following January, a second expedition was despatched ; 
and the Daflas, who, aided by the Miris, ventured to fight 
a pitched battle, were utterly defeated. The expedition 
marched through their country, destroying the villages and 
granaries, and looting cattle to the number of about a thou- 
sand. These operations resulted in the full submission of the 
hillmen. In the same year the Tipam Raja, who had withheld 
the payment of tribute, was arrested and put to death ; and an 
expedition was sent against the Khamting Nagas, which 
seems to have been fairly successful. 
The king Kukure Khowa Gohain, the son of the chief queen, gave 
is deposed g rea ^ dissatisfaction to the people by his cruelty, and at the 

Tl f\ nl AH 

* The name of the tribe is themselves " Sing" or "Noising" 
given as " Singi " which I assume and the locality described is that 
means Dafla. The Daflaa call now inhabited by this tribe. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 123 

same time alienated the nobles by his overbearing and 
insulting behaviour towards them. The kiDg was asked to 
remonstrate with him, but he declined to do so. At the 
same time, the delicate state of his health prevented him from 
attending regularly to public business. He became increas- 
ingly unpopular; and eventually, in November 1648, he was 
deposed by the nobles, headed by the Burha Gohain, and his 
son Sutamla was made king in his stead.* A few days later 
he was poisoned ; some say that his chief queen was buried 
alive in his grave, and others that she and her son were 
crushed to death. Daring this reign there was some further 
discussion with the Kachari king as to his status. The 
latter objected to being described as " established and 
protected by the Ahoms," but he seems to have waived his 
objections on being promised an Ahom princess in marriage. 

Sutamla, on ascending the throne, assumed the Hindu name Jaya- 
of Jayadhvaj Singh. Owing to his flight from Garhgaon at g^ va ? 
the time of the Muhammadan invasion, which will be (Sutamla), 
described further on, he is also known as the " Bhagania ****| to 
(fugitive) Raja/'' On the day of his accession the people were 
entertained with fights between wild animals. The Somdeo 
was placed on the throne ; guns were fired, bands played and 
largess was distributed. Presents were also made to the 
Brahmans. The Daflas, the Kachari king and the Muham- 
madan governor at Gauhati sent messages of congratulation 
and presents. The Raja of Jaintia, who did the same, 
coupled his felicitations with a request to be given back the 
provinces of Dimarua and Kuphanali, which had been ceded 
the Ahoms, but his petition was refused. 

The new king shared the fate of all usurpers, and several 
conspiracies were formed against him, which he repressed 
with ferocious severity. In one, the Burha Gohain was 
concerned, and he and his fellow conspirators were tortured 

* So Kasinath and some of the all, expressed a wish to abdicate in 
Buranjis. Others, which are favour of Sutamla, and that he 
usually trustworthy, say that the died a natural death soon after- 
king fell ill and, being neglected by wards. 



124 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

to death by the barbarous expedient of placing live coals in 
their mouths. On another . occasion the Bar Gohain helped 
some of the persons implicated to make good their escape. 
As a punishment, he was stripped naked and whipped, and 
made to eat the flesh of his own son. 
tions *" In 1650 an expedition was sent to punish the Lakma 

against Nagas for a raid committed by them. They were put to 
and g Mirii ^^t an( * a villag*e was burnt, but the punishment was not 
sufficient to act as a deterrent. Fresh raids were perpetrated, 
and four years later a second expedition was found necessary. 
The Lakmas, armed with spears, made an unexpected attack 
on the Ahom troops, but were driven off by a detachment of 
Dafla archers that accompanied the force. A stockade was 
then taken, and many of the Nagas who defended it were 
killed. Soon afterwards the Ahom force was again surprised, 
but the Lakmas failed to drive home their attack, and took 
refuge in the hills, whither the Ahom soldiers found it 
difficult to follow them, on account of the stony ground to 
which their bare feet were unaccustomed. The Nagas now 
asked for a cessation of hostilities, and then treacherously 
attacked the envoy who was sent to treat with them. The 
Ahoms, therefore, after receiving reinforcements, renewed 
their advance. They were unable to come up with their 
nimble foes, but destroyed their houses and stores of grain. 
Eventually the Naga chief came in and made his submis- 
sion. He agreed to pay tribute, and in return was given a 
hill, the possession of which had previously been in dispute. 

In 1655 the Miris made a raid and killed two Ahom 
subjects. The force sent against them defeated with 
considerable loss a body of three hundred Miris and burned 
twelve of their villages ; the tribe then gave way and agreed 
to pay an annual tribute of bison, horses, tortoises, swords and 
yellow beads (probably amber), and gave up twelve men to 
the Ahoms in the place of the two whom they had killed, 
delations j n ^47 ^e R a j a £ J a i n tia seized an Ahom trader and, 
Jaintia as he would not release him, Jayadhvaj Singh retaliated by 

* n< }, arresting a number of Jaintia traders at Sonapur. This led 
(ioDna. ° 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 125 

to a cessation of all intercourse between the two countries 
for eight years. The Jaintia Raja then made overtures to 
the Bar Phukan at Gauhati, and friendly relations were 
re-established. 

In 1658 Pramata Rai rebelled against his grandfather 
Jasa Manta Rai, Raja of Jaintia, and called on the tributary 
chief of Gobha to help him. The latter refused, and Pramata 
Rai thereupon destroyed four of his villages. He appealed 
for help to the Kacharis, who were preparing to come to 
his assistance, ' when the local Ahom officials intervened and 
said that, as the Ahoms were the paramount power, it was 
they whose protection should be sought. The Gobha chief 
accordingly went with seven hundred men to Jayadhvaj 
Singh and begged for help. Orders were issued to the Bar 
Phukan to establish him in Khagarijan, corresponding more 
or less to the modern Nowgong, and this was accordingly 
done. 

Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor of Delhi, fell sick in Ahoms 
1658, and Pran Narayan, Raja of Koch Bihar,* took advan- conquer 
tage of the confusion caused by the wars of succession that Assam, 
followed to throw off the Muhammadan yoke. He made 
raids into Goalpara, and two of the local chiefs fled to Beltola, 
where Jayadhvaj Singh took them under his protection. 



*In his analysis of the Fathiyah that he did not look after his king- 
% 'lbriyah Blochmann calls this dom. His palace is regal, has a 
king Bhim Narayan, but he notes ghusulkhana, a darshan, private 
that some manuscripts have also rooms, accommodation for the 
Pern Narayan. There can be no harem, for servants, baths and 
doubt that the proper reading fountains, and a garden. In the 
should be Pran Narayan. This is town there are flower-beds in the 
the name given in the Koch, as streets and trees to both sides of 
well as in the Ahom, chronicles. them. The people use the sword, 
The author of the Fathiyah i firelock and arrows as weapons. 
'lbriyah describes this ruler as a " The arrows are generally poi- 
" noble, mighty king, powerful soned ; their mere touch is fatal, 
and fond of company. He never Some of the inhabitants are en- 
took his lip from the edge of the chanters ; they read formulas upon 
bowl nor his hand from the flagon ; water and give it to the wounded 
he was continually surrounded by to drink, who then recover. The 
singing women and was so addic- men and the women are rarely 
ted to the pleasures of the harem good-looking." 



126 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

The Muhammadan Faujdar of Kamrup and Hajo tried to 
oppose him, but the bulk of his troops had been withdrawn 
by Prince Shuja ; he was defeated by Pran Narayan's 
army under his Vazir Bhawanath, and retreated to 
Gauhati. 

In the meantime Jayadhvaj Singh, who was also on the 
alert to take advantage of the dissensions amongst the 
Mughals, assembled a strong army, threw two bridges 
over the Kallang and advanced towards Gauhati. On 
arriving, he found that the Faujdar had fled without waiting 
to be attacked. Twenty cannon and a number of horses, 
guns, etc., which there had been no time to remove, fell into 
his hands. Pran Narayan now proposed an offensive and 
defensive alliance against the Muhammadans and a friendly 
division of their possessions in Assam, he taking the tract 
lying on the north bank of the Brahmaputra and the Ahoms 
that on the south. His advances were rejected by the 
Ahoms who were elated by their easy capture of Gauhati. 
They marched against the Koches and, after a slight check, 
defeated them twice and drove them across the Sankosh. 
They thus became the masters of the whole of the Brahma- 
putra valley, and nearly three years elapsed before any effort 
was made by the Muhammadans to regain their lost territory. 
During this period, a number of the inhabitants of villages in 
Lower Assam were transported to the eastern provinces. 
According to the Alamgirndmah the Ahoms, not content 
with their conquest of the whole of the Brahmaputra valley, 
plundered and laid waste the country to the south of it, 
almost as far as Dacca itself. 
Mir When Mir Jumlah was made governor of Bengal, and 

Jumlah's had occupied p acca a fter the flight of Prince Shuja to 

invasion r ° . 

of Assam. Arakan, Jayadhvaj Singh sent an envoy to nim to say that 

he had taken possession of the country solely in order to 

protect it from the Koches, and that he was prepared to hand 

it over to any officer whom the governor might send for the 

purpose. 

Eashid Khan was accordingly deputed to receive back 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 127 

the Imperial lands. On his approach, the Ahoms abandoned 
Dhubri, and fell back beyond the Monas river, but he 
suspected a snare and waited for reinforcements before taking 
possession of the tract which they had abandoned. When 
the Ahom king heard of the retreat of his troops, he caused 
the two Phukans who were responsible for it to be arrested 
and put in chains, and appointed the Baduli Phukan to be 
Neog Phukan and Commander-in-Chief. He also ordered the 
Jogighopa fort at the mouth of the Monas to be strengthened 
and a new fort to be constructed on the opposite bank of the 
Brahmaputra, and sent a letter to Rashid Khan calling upon 
him to withdraw his troops. These matters were duly 
reported to Mir Jumlah who, in the meantime, had taken the 
field in person against Pran Narayan. He occupied Koch 
Bihar, but failed to capture the Raja, who escaped to Bhutan. 
He left a garrison of five thousand men in Koch Bihar and 
then, on the 4th January 1662, set forth on his invasion of 
Assam. Rashid Khan joined him at Rangamati, but the 
local zamindars, thinking it impossible that he could defeat 
the Ahoms, held aloof. Owing to the dense jungle and the 
numerous rivers, the journey was most tedious, and the daily 
marches rarely exceeded four or five miles. 

At last, after many delays, he arrived opposite the Ahom Capture 
fort at Jogighopa with a force of twelve thousand horse °i °% l ~ 
and thirty thousand foot.* The garrison, which was suffer- 
ing from some form of violent epidemic disease, possibly 
cholera, and had a total strength of only twelve thousand, 
was overawed by this formidable army and, after a very 
faint-hearted resistance, evacuated the fort and beat a hasty 
retreat to Srighat and Pandu. The author of the Fathiyah i 
'Ibriyah gives the following description of the fort at 
Jogighopa : — " It is a large and high fort on the Brahmaputra. 

* These figures are taken from at Garhgaon " 12,000 horse and 
the Buranjis. The Muhammadan numerous foot," and there is, there- 
chronicles contain no information fore, good ground for believing 
as to the original strength of Mir that the estimate in the Buranjis 
Jumlah' s army. It is stated, is not excessive, 
however, that he had with him 



128 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMAD AN WARS. 

Near it the enemy had dug many holes for the horses to 
fall into, and pointed pieces of bamboo (pdnjis) had been 
stuck in the holes. Behind the holes, for about half a 
shot's distance, on even ground, they had made a ditch, 
and behind this ditch, near the fort, another one three yards 
deep. The latter was also full of pointed bamboos. This 
is how the Ahoms fortify all their positions. They make 
their forts of mud. The Brahmaputra is south of the fort, 
and on the east is the Monas." 
Further Mir Jumlah now divided his army into two divisions, one 

advance. £ ^j^ marched up the south bank of the Brahmaputra, 
while he himself, with the main body, crossed the Monas by 
a bridge of boats and advanced along the north bank. The 
fleet kept pace with the army. It comprised a number of 
ghrabs, or large vessels carrying about fourteen guns and 
about fifty or sixty men, each of which was in tow of four 
kosahs, or lighter boats propelled by oars. Most of the 
ghrabs were in charge of European officers, amongst whom 
Portuguese predominated.* The total number of vessels of 
all kinds was between three and four hundred. 

On receiving news of the loss of Jogighopa, Jayadhvaj 
Singh hastily despatched large reinforcements to Srighat and 
Pandu, but the Muhammadans arrived before them. 
Occupa- The Ahom forces again declined an engagement. The 

p 0n w* droops on ^ ne n01 '£h bank fled to Kajali so rapidly as to escape a 
turning movement attempted by a detachment under Rashld 
Khan. Those south of: the river were not so fortunate ; they 
were overtaken by a flying force, and large numbers of 
them were killed. The fort at Srighat, which was protected 
by a palisade of large logs of wood, was demolished, and 

* An interesting account of the invasion will also be found in an 

experiences of one of the Dutch- old work entitled Particular 

men accompanying the expedition events, or the most considerable 

is given in The Loss of the Ter passages after the War of Five 

Schelling, which has been repro- Years or thereabout, in the 

duced in a work styled Tales of Empire of The Great Mogul, 

Shipwrecks and Adventures at Tom II, by Mons. F. Bernier, 

Sea. (London, 2nd Rdn., 1852, London, 1671. 
p. 705.) A short history of the 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 129 

Gauhati, which, at this time, was wholly or chiefly on the 
north bank of the river, was occupied on the 4th February 
1662. A fort at Beltola succumbed to a night attack, and 
the garrison was put to the sword. 

When news of this fresh misfortune reached Kajali, the Ahoms 
panic-stricken Ahoms left it and fled to Samdhara. Strenu- f ^ cen I 
ous efforts were here made to arrest the further progress of Samdhara. 
the Muhammadans. The army was divided into two parts, 
one of which, under the command of Bheba and the Bar 
Gohain, with the Tipam Raja, the Barpatra Gohain and 
other officers, was posted on the north bank, while the other 
part, under the Bhitarual Gohain, assisted by the Bar Phukan, 
the Sadiya Khowa Gohain and others, was stationed on the 
south bank. The fortifications of Samdhara, and of Simla- 
garh on the opposite side of the river, were strengthened and 
surrounded by trenches, in front of which holes were dug 
and planted with panji's. In the meantime, after halting three 
days at Gauhati, where the Darrang Raja came in and made 
his submission,* Mir Jumlah started on his march for Garh- 
gaon, the Ahom capital. Half way to Samdhara the whole 
army crossed to the south bank in boats, the passage occupy- 
ing two days. The Dimarua Kaja sent in his nephew to 
attend on the Nawab and explained his own absence on the 
ground of sickness. One night there was a very violent 
storm on the river and a number of the ships accompanying 
the expedition were upset. There was also a panic among the 
horses, many of which jumped into the river. 

The advance along the south bank continued, and on the Fort at 
28th February, the army encamped so near the Ahom fort of Simla g a j5 l1 
Simlagarh that a cannon ball fired from it passed over the storm. 

* The submission of the Raja of it is this chief who is referred to. 

Darrang is recorded only in the On the other hand, when the next 

Muhammadan chronicles. His Ahom king came to the throne, it is 

name is there given as Makardvaj, stated that the Raja of Darrang sent 

but the name of the Darrang him a message of congratulation 

Raja of this period was Surya and so restored the friendly rela- 

Narayan. A Kaja of Rani who tions which had been interrupted 

lived about this time was named duriug the Muhammadan invasion. 
Makardhaj, and it is^ possible that 



180 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Nawab's tent. This fort occupied a very strong strategic 
position. It lay between the Brahmaputra on the north and a 
range of hills on the south, and was protected on the other 
two sides by walls with battlements on which numerous cannon 
were mounted. Outside the walls were the newly-excavated 
trenches and pits studded with panjis. To avoid the loss of 
life which would have been involved in storming it, a siege 
was decided on. Mounds were thrown up within gunshot 
and cannon were mounted on them, but the walls of the fort 
were so thick that the cannon balls made but little impression. 
Gradually, however, and under heavy fire, trenches, or covered 
ways, were carried close up to the walls. A night attack on 
these trenches was repulsed, though with difficulty, and a 
night or two later (on the 25th February) the final assault 
was delivered. The resistance made by the defenders was 
comparatively feeble and, as soon as they found that the wall 
had been scaled and the gate broken open, they fled preci- 
pitately without attempting to save their guns and other 
war material, all of which fell into the hands of the victors. 
On entering the place next day, Mir Jumlah was surprised at 
the strength of the fortifications and, in view of the bravery of 
the Ahom soldiers at this period, it is difficult to explain why 
a more stubborn defence was not made, unless it was because 
on this, as on many other occasions, they had the misfortune 
to be under inefficient or timid leaders. 
Naval On the fall of Simlagarh the garrison of Samdhara lost 

victory heart and, having destroyed their store of gunpowder, fled 
Koiiabar. without waiting to be attacked. Mir Jumlah placed a garrison 
in Samdhara and appointed a Muhammadan official as Fau jdar 
of Koiiabar. Here, as elsewhere, marauding was strictly for- 
bidden, and the villagers brought in supplies freely. Mir 
Jumlah rested his army for three days at Koiiabar and then 
continued his march. At this point the country along the 
bank of the river is very hilly, and he had to lead his troops 
along a more level route, which lay some distance inland. 
The fleet thus became isolated, and the Ahoms, seeing their 
opportunity, attacked it with their own fleet of seven or eight 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 131 

hundred ships, just after it had been anchored at the end of 
the first day's journey above Koliabar. The cannonade, which 
lasted the whole night, was heard by the army, and a force 
was at once despatched to the assistance of the fleet. This 
force reached the bank of the river at daybreak, and the 
Ahoms, on hearing the sound of its trumpets, took fright 
and fled. They were pursued by the Muhammadans, who 
captured over three hundred of their ships.* The march 
was then continued to Salagarh, which the Ahoms evacuated 
on the approach of the Muhammadans. At this place, 
several Ahom officials appeared with letters from Jayadhvaj 
Singh asking for peace. His overtures were rejected, as it was 
thought that they were not sincere, and that his object was to 
cause delay, or a decrease in the vigilance of the invaders. 

The Ahom force under the Bar Gohain on the north bank Ahoms 
of the Brahmaputra, after evacuating Samdhara, retreated kakha ° 
eastwards, laying waste the country and forcing the inhabit- 
ants to leave their villages, so as to deprive the Muhammadans 
of supplies in the event of their attempting to follow him. 
Mir Jumlah, however, kept his army on the south bank of 
the river, and did not greatly trouble himself about the Bar 
Gohain's troops, beyond sending occasional detachments across 
the river to harass his march and attack his camps. In one 
or two of these minor engagements the Ahom writers claim 
that the Bar Gohain was victorious, but, if so, his success was 
not sufficiently great to encourage him to run the risk of 
allowing himself to be cut off from further retreat up the valley; 
and, as the Muhammadan army advanced up the south bank, 
he continued his retreat along the north. 

♦This naval defeat of the Ahoms the Muhammadan fleet hut that the 

is described by the Muhammadan Deodhais examined the legs of 

historians and by the Dutch fowls and found the omens un- 

author of the Wreck of the Ter favourable ; they are silent as to 

Schelling. It is not mentioned what followed, but the defeat may 

in the Buranjis, which are usually be inferred from the subsequent 

perfectly frank in admitting statement that the king was in- 

reverses. In some of them, it formed of the defeat of his land 

is stated that Jayadhvaj Singh and naval forces, 
ordered an attack to be made on 

K 2 



132 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 



Changes 
in course 
of Brah- 
maputra. 



When Jayadhvaj Singh learnt of the misfortunes that had 
befallen his armies, he sent orders to the commanders on both 
banks to concentrate at Lakhau or Lakhugarh. 

This they did, but when Mir Jumlah arrived there, on 
the 9th March, they retreated further up the Brahmaputra 
after a resistance so feeble that it is not even mentioned in 
the Musalman accounts of the expedition. 

Lakhau lies at what was then the confluence of the 
Dihing and the Brahmaputra. At the period in question, 
the latter river flowed down the course 'of what is now 
called the Lohit river, along the north of the Majuli island, 
while the Dihing followed the present channel of the 
Brahmaputra to the south of it, and, after receiving the waters 
of the Disang and the Dikhu, united with the Brahmaputra 
at its western extremity. At a still earlier period the 
Dihing is believed to have flowed into the Brahmaputra 
further east than the Buri Dihing does now. At that time, 
according to native traditions, the Dikhu had an independ- 
ent course as far as Kajalimukh, part of which still survives 
in the Majuli as the Tuni river, and part in Nowgong, as the 
Kallang. 
Flight of Jayadhvaj Singh now resolved on flight, and orders were 
issued for the collection of a thousand boats in which to 
remove his property. The Burha Gohain and some others 
were ordered to remain at Garhgaon, while the king with the 
Bar Barua and Bar Phukan fled, first to Charaideo, and then 
to Taraisat. Here he held a council, at which there was a 
consensus of opinion that it was impossible to resist the 
Muhammadan host. He sent envoys with presents to sue 
for peace, but his overtures were again rejected and he was 
told that Mir Jumlah would soon be in Garhgaon, where alone 
he would treat with the Raja. The Ahom king then 
continued his flight to Tipam and thence to Namrup, 
the easternmost province of his kingdom. He was accom- 
panied by a number of his nobles and about five thousand 
men. The Bar Gohain fled to Tira, and many of the other 
officials took shelter on the Majuli. 



Abom 
king 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 133 

The Diking was so shallow above its junction with the Garhg&on 
Brahmaputra that it was impossible for the fleet to go further. ^^P^- 
Mir Jumlah, therefore, left it at Lakhau. After halting there 
for three days, during which time he was joined by a number 
of deserters from the Ahom cause, he set out with his land 
forces along the direct road to Garhgaon. Debargaon was 
reached in two days. The third day he halted, and, on the 
fourth, he marched to Gajpur. Here he heard of the flight of 
the Kaja and at once despatched a flying column with all 
speed to Garhgaon to seize the elephants and other property 
which had not already been removed. Next day the main 
body encamped at the mouth of the Dikhu, and the day 
following, the 17th March, the Nawab entered Garhgaon and 
occupied the Raja's palace. Eighty-two elephants and nearly 
three Jakhs of rupees' worth of gold and silver were found 
at Garhgaon, and also about 170 storehouses, each containing 
from one to ten thousand maunds of rice. 

During the whole expedition the Muhammadans had taken 
six hundred and seventy-five cannon, including one which 
threw balls weighing more than two hundred pounds, about 
9,000 matchlocks and other guns, a large quantity of gun- 
powder, saltpetre, iron shields, sulphur and lead, and more than 
a thousand ships, many of which accommodated from sixty 
to eighty sailors. It is said that Mir Jumlah opened a mint 
at Garhgaon and caused money to be struck there in the name 
of the Delhi Emperor. The Muhammadans occupied a num- 
ber of villages, and the inhabitants soon began to accept the 
position and to settle down quietly under their new rulers. 

It was the Nawab's intention to spend the rainy season at 
Lakhau, but three days' continuous downpour indicated an 
early commencement of the monsoon, and, as the captured 
elephants were not yet fully trained and could not be got to 
work properly, and without them it was impossible to transport 
in time the booty taken at Garhgaon, it was resolved instead 
to camp at Mathurapur, seven miles south-east of Garhgaon, 
a garrison being left at the latter place under Mir Murtaza, 
who had orders to despatch the captured cannon and other 



134 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

bootyto Dacca. Detachments were posted at Silpani, Deo- 
pani, Gajpur and Abhaypur, and Jalal Khan was sent to 
guard the Dihing river. 
Muham- By this time the rains had set in ; locomotion became 

suffer difficult, and the real troubles of the invaders began. The 
h Q fv All oms, although no longer willing to hazard a general 
during^ 8 engagement, were by no means inclined to submit to a perma- 
the rains, nent occupation of their country ; and they took advantage of 
the inclemency of the season to cut off communications and 
supplies, to seize and kill all stragglers from the main body, 
and to harass the Muhammadan garrisons by repeated 
surprises, especially at night. A successful night attack 
was made upon Gajpur, and the troops there were all killed. 
Sarandaz Khan, who was sent to retake the place, could not 
reach it without ships. Muhammad Murad was accord- 
ingly sent with reinforcements and ships, but Sarandaz Khan 
quarrelled with him and turned back. He therefore pushed 
forward alone, but perished with almost all his men in a night 
attack ; his whole fleet was captured and the sailors were almost 
all killed. At Deopani the Ahoms threw up trenches round 
the Muhammadan fort and were continually on the alert to 
take it by assault, but in this case, misfortune was averted by 
the timely arrival of reinforcements. 

As it was found that the inhabitants of the villages near 
the outposts often joined in these operations, the Muham- 
mad ans found it necessary to adopt very strong measures as 
a deterrent ; they gave out that they would put to death 
all the males in villages in which any wounded men were 
found after an engagement, and, after this exemplary punish- 
ment had been inflicted in one or two cases, the people in 
their immediate neighbourhood gave no further trouble. 

With the progress of the rains, however, Mir Jumlah 
found it more and more difficult to maintain his outposts, 
and they were withdrawn to Garhgaon and Mathurapur. 
These places alone remained in his hands. All the rest of 
the countiy was re-occupied by the Ahoms, and Jayadhvaj 
Singh returned from Namrup to Solagari, only four stages 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 135 

distant from Garhgaon. Even Garhgaon and Mathurapur 
were so closely invested that, if a man ventured to leave the 
camp, he was certain to be shot. 

About this time, negotiations for peace were opened, but 
accounts differ as to who began them. They fell through, 
the Ahoms say, because the terms offered were not accepted, 
while the Muhammadan writers assert that the Ahom Com- 
mander-in-Chief had agreed to them subject to the approval 
of the king, but changed his mind on the Muhammadan main 
body retreating from Mathurapur to Garhgaon. This he inter- 
preted as a sign of weakness, but, in reality, it was occasioned 
by a bad outbreak of epidemic disease at Mathurapur, and the 
consequent necessity of moving the troops to fresh quarters.* 

The Ahoms renewed their attacks upon Garhgaon, and in Ahoms 
one of their assaults succeeded in burning down a number ma f , 
of houses. On another occasion they entered a bamboo fort attacks on 
which the Muhammadans had constructed, and occupied half G a ™g5.on. 
of Garhgaon; they were repulsed, but with great difficulty. 
The Muhammadans were now reduced to severe straits. They 
were exposed to constant attacks both by day and by night. 
The only food generally obtainable was coarse rice and limes. 
Salt was sold at thirty rupees per seer, butter at fourteen 
rupees a seer, and opium at sixteen rupees a tola. Fever and 
dysentery became terribly prevalent, and a detachment which 
numbered fifteen hundred men at the beginning of the war 
was reduced to five hundred ; many horses also died. To add 
to his troubles Mir Jumlah heard that Pran Narayan had 
returned, and driven away the garrison he had left in Koch 
Bihar. The troops, commanders and common soldiers alike, 
had become utterly dispirited, and they thought only of 
returning to their own homes. 

* In the Fathiyah i ' Ibriyah it (2) the payment of 500 ele- 

i8 said that Mir Jumlah demand- phants and 300,000 

ed — tolas of gold and silver, 

(1) the cession of all the (3) a daughter of the king 

country up to Garh- for the Imperial harem. 

gnon. (4) an annual tribute of fifty 

elephants. 



peace. 



136 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

rjih ey At the end of September, however, the rains ceased and 

improve matters improved. Communications became easier and, 

«on Jb " in the latter part of October, fresh supplies were received from 

close of Bengal. The Ahoms gradually withdrew, after suffering 

rains. defeat in several engagements. The Baduli Phukan deserted 

to the Muhammadans, and his example was followed by many 

others. He submitted to Mir Jumlah a plan for hunting 

down the Ahom king. He was given three or four thousand 

fighting men for the purpose, and was appointed Subadar 

of the country between Garhgaon and Namrup. But again 

difficulties arose. Owing to' famine in Bengal, further 

supplies were not forthcoming. Mir Jumlah fell ill, and could 

only travel by palanquin ; and his troops were so discontented 

that large numbers threatened to desert rather than pass 

another rainy season in Garhgaon. 

Conclu- Mir Jumlah was thus compelled to listen to the Raja's 

sion of repeated overtures, and peace was agreed to on the following 

terms : — 

(1) Jayadhvaj Singh to send a daughter to the Im- 
perial harem.* 

(2) Twenty thousand tolas of gold, six times this 
quantity of silver and forty elephants to be 
made over at once. 

(3) Three hundred thousand tolas of silver and ninety 
elephants to be supplied within twelve months. 

(4) Six sons of the chief nobles to be made over as 
hostages pending compliance with the last 
mentioned condition. 

(5) Twenty elephants to be supplied annually. 

(6) The country west of the Bharali river on the north 
bank of the Brahmaputra and of the Kallang on 
the south to be ceded to the Emperor of Delhi. 

(7) All prisoners and the family of the Baduli Phukan 
to be given up. 

* Presumably this was the girl of Rs. 180,000, is mentioned in the 
whose marriage to Prinoe Muham- Madslr i 'Alamgiri (Edn. Bibl. 
mad A'zam in 1668 with a dowry Ind., page 73). 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 137 

A treaty was concluded accordingly, and, on the 9th 
January 1663, to the intense joy of his army, Mir Jumlah 
gave the order to return to Bengal. 

The main body of the army marched down the south Mir 
bank of the Brahmaputra as far as Singiri Parbat, where it ^J^g t 
crossed to the north bank. Mir Jumlah himself travelled by Bengal 
palki from Garhgaon to Lakhau, by boat from Lakhau to 
Koliabar, and from thence by palJci to Kajalimukh, a dis- 
tance of eighty-four miles. His army does not appear to 
have been harassed in any way by the enemy,* but its plight 
must have been very wretched. The scribe of the expedition 
says that during the four days' march between Koliabar and 
Kajali, the soldiers lived on water, and their animals on grass. 
Mir Jumlah rested a few days at Kajali, and while here (on 
the 7th February 1663) the army was frightened by a terrible 
storm of thunder and lightning, followed by a severe earth- 
quake, the shocks of which continued for half an hour. From 
Kajali a move was made to Gauhati, where Rashid Khan was 
installed, against his will, as Faujdar. 

The Nawab, who had had a relapse at Kajali, now became and dies 
seriously ill, and was constrained to give up his projected J* Jj nff 
expedition to Koch Bihar and to proceed direct to Dacca. Dacca. 
He grew worse and worse, and died, just before his ship 
reached Dacca, on the 30th March 1663. 

As soon as the Muhammadans had departed, Jayadhvaj 
Singh returned to Bakata. He dismissed the Bar Gohain 
with ignominy, beating him, it is said, with the flat side of 
his sword, and dealt similarly with all other officials who had 
been found wanting in their conduct of the war. As a pre- 
caution, in the event of any subsequent invasion, he caused 
a stronghold to be constructed in Namrup and collected a 
quantity of treasure there. 

* Robinson, who is followed by however, makes the same statement 

Gunabhiram, says that some author- in his Particu la r Events ', or the 

ities state that Mir Jumlah was most Considerable Passages after 

driven back to Bengal, but I have the War of five years or there' 

seen no original record which in about in the Empire of the Great 

any way bears this out. Bernier, Mogul. 



138 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Jaya- He did not long survive the anxieties and hardships of 

Sin^li *he invasion, and, in November 1663, he was attacked by a 
dies. serious disease, o£ which he died after an illness of only nine 

andmis- 1 ^ a y s ' '^ a ^ s king was ver y mucn under the influence of the 
cellaneous Brahmans, and, it is said, actually enrolled himself as the 
re'^n 8 ° disciple of Niranjan Bapu, whom he established as the first 
Gosain of the great Auniati Sattra* Hearing of the fame 
of Bauamali Gosain of Koch Bihar, he sent for him, and gave 
him land for a sattra at Jakhalabandha. At the instigation 
of the Brahmans, he persecuted the Mahapurushia sects and 
killed some of their leading members. His private life was 
far from reputable ; and much scandal was caused by an 
intrigue with his chief queen's sister. He eventually, on the 
suggestion of his father-in-law, made her his wife, and subse- 
quently caused her previous husband to be assassinated. He 
allowed himself to be ruled in everything by these two sisters, 
and whatever they did was law. He appointed their paternal 
uncle to be Phukan of Kajalimukh. 

The public works constructed during this king's reign 
included the road from Ali Kekuri to Namdang, the Seoni 
Ali, the Bhomraguri Ali, and the tank at Bhatiapara. 
Condition The author of the Fathiyah i 'Ibriyak, who accompanied 
• TS m Mir Jumlah throughout his expedition to Assam, furnishes 
a very interesting account of the condition of the country at 
that time and a summary of his observations on the subject 
is given below.t 
The inha- He says that the ancient inhabitants belong to two 
bitants. nations, the Ahom and the Kalita. This statement is appa- 
rently intended to apply only to the country round Garhgaon. 
The writer refers elsewhere to the Miris, Nagas and other 
tribes. 

The Kalitas are described as in every way superior to the 
Ahoms, except where fatigues are to be undergone and in 

* According to another account, f Here, as elsewhere, _ Bloch- 

his Guru was Path el Gosain of mann's analysis given in the 
Kuruabahi. Journal of the Asiatic Society of 

Bengal for 1872 is relied upon. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 139 

warlike expeditions. The Ahoms, it is said, were strongly- 
built, " quarrelsome, fond of shedding blood, fearless in 
affrays, merciless, mean and treacherous ; in lies and deceit 
they stand unrivalled beneath the sun. Their women have 
mild features but are very black \ their hair is long, and their 
skin soft and smooth ; their hands and feet are delicate. 
From a distance the people look well ; but they are ill-favoured 
so far as proportion of limbs is concerned. Hence if you 
look at them near, you will call them rather ugly." They 
shaved the head, beard and whiskers. Their language 
differed entirely from that of Eastern Bengal, as was only 
natural, seeing that, at this period, their own Shan dialect 
was still in use. The king professed to be a Hindu, but the 
common people, it is alleged, had no religion. They would 
accept food from Muhammadans or any other people. 
They ate all kinds of flesh, except human, whether of 
dead or of killed animals, but milk and butter were tabooed. 
These remarks are interesting, as showing that Hinduism 
had at this period made no perceptible progress among 
the common people ; the habits attributed to them differ 
in no way from those of many of the hill tribes who 
are still outside the pale of Hinduism. The author of the 
Alamgirnamah is equally uncomplimentary. The Ahoms, 
he says, " are a base and unprincipled nation, and have no 
fixed religion. They follow no rule but that of their own 
inclination ; and make the approbation of their own vicious 
minds the test of the propriety of their actions. Their 
strength and courage are apparent in their looks, but their 
ferocious manners and brutal tempers are also betrayed by 
their physiognomy. They are superior to most nations in 
bodily strength and power of endurance. They are enter- 
prising, savage, fond of war, vindictive, treacherous and 
deceitful. The virtues of compassion, kindness, friendship, 
modesty and purity of morals have been left out of their com- 
position. The seeds of tenderness and humanity have not 
been sown in the field of their frames ." 

As regards the local Muhammadans, the author of the 



140 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

Fathiyah % 'Ibriyah says that :«— " The Muslims whom we met 
in Assam are Assamese in their habits, and Muhammadans 
but in name. In fact they like the Assamese better than us. 
A few Musalman strangers that had settled there, kept up 
prayers and fasts ; but they were forbidden to chant the azan 
and read the word of God in public." 
Customs The par da system was unknown and the women, even 

people, those of the Royal family, went everywhere without head 
coverings. Polygamy was general. The poorer classes used a 
coarse cloth for the head, another for the waist, and a third to 
throw over the shoulders. The richer people wore a kind of 
jacket as well. Some of the upper classes used a sort of low 
table, or wooden charpoy, as a bed, but the common people 
slept on the ground. Rich persons travelled in palanquins of 
peculiar construction. For riding on elephants, a kind of 
chair was used instead of a howdah. To sell an elephant 
was looked upon as a heinous crime. 

Betel-leaf and unripe areca-nuts were consumed in large 
quantities. The people were very skilful in the weaving of 
embroidered silk cloths. They made their boxes, trays, stools 
and chairs by carving them out of a single block of 
wood. With the exception of some temples and the gates 
of Garhgaon, there were no masonry buildings ; rich and 
poor alike made their houses of wood, or bamboos, and 
grass. 

Their weapons were cannon, matchlocks, short swords, 
lances and bows and arrows. The bows were of bamboo, and 
the arrows were pointed with iron. The matchlocks and 
cannon were well cast. The gunpowder was of various 
kinds, and, for the best, the materials were imported from 
Bengal. 

Military service was compulsory on all land-owners and 
cultivators, but most of them were great cowards. " Like 
jackals they will commence a tremendous howl, and will, like 
foxes, think that their noise frightens the lions of the bush . 
A small number of their fighting men may indeed checkmate 
thousands ; they are the true Ahoms, but their number does 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 141 

not exceed 20,000.* They are given to night attacks, for 
which they believe the night of Thursday to be specially 
auspicious. But the common people will run away, with or 
without fighting, and only think of throwing away their 
arms." 

Even the genuine Ahoms were afraid of horses and " if a 
horseman attack a hundred armed Assamese, they will throw 
down their arms and run away ; but if one of them should 
meet ten Muhammadans on foot, he will fearlessly attack 
them and even be victorious." 

The war sloops, or hacharis, though slower, resembled 
the Bengali Jcosahs, or rowing boats used for towing the 
heavier vessels on which cannon were mounted. The river 
traffic was very great, and, in the report of a Gauhati official 
for the month of Ramzan 1662, thirty-two thousand boats of 
various kinds are stated to have arrived there, but the period 
during which this number was counted is not clearly stated. 
The environs of the palace and the harem of the Raja were 
guarded by about seven thousand Ahoms, called Chaudangs, 
who were the devoted servants of the Raja, and also acted 
as executioners. 

This writer gives a lengthy description of the capital. Descrip- 
According to him " The town of Garhgaon has four gates qJJ^J 
built of stone and mortar, the distance of each of which g&on. 
from the palace of the Raja is three kos. A well-raised, broad 
and very solid road or embankment has been made for the 
traffic, and round about the town, instead of fortifications, 
there are circular bushes of bamboo, about two kos in diameter. 
But the town is not like other towns, the huts of the inhabit- 
ants being within the bamboo bushes near the embankment. 
Each man has his garden or field before his house, so that 
one side of the field touches the embankment, and the other 
the house. Near the Raja's palace, on both sides of the 
Dikhu river, are large houses. The bazar road is narrow, and 
is occupied only by joaw-sellers. Eatables are not sold as in 

* At the census of 1901 the total Ahoms was 178,050, of whom 
number of persons returned as 90,808 were males, 



U2 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

our markets ; but each man keeps in his house stores for a 
year, and no one either sells or buys. The town looks large, 
being a cluster of several villages. Round about the palace an 
embankment has been thrown up, the top of which is fortified 
by a bamboo palisade, instead of by walls, and along the sides 
of it a ditch runs, the depth of which exceeds a man's height. 
It is always full of water. The circumference exceeds two 
miles. Inside are high and spacious buildings. The audience 
hall of the Raja, which is called solang, is one hundred and 
twenty cubits in length, and thirty in width. It has sixty- 
six pillars, each about four cubits in circumference. The 
pillars, though so large, are quite smooth, so that at the first 
glance you take them to be planed. The ornaments and 
curiosities, with which the whole woodwork of the house is 
filled, defy description ; nowhere in the whole inhabited 
world, will you find a house equal to it in strength, ornament- 
ation and pictures. The sides of this palace are embellished 
by extraordinary wooden trellice work. Inside there are 
large brass mirrors, highly polished, and, if the sun shines 
on one of them, the eyes of the bystanders are perfectly 
dazzled. Twelve thousand workmen are said to have erected 
the building in the course of one year. At one end of the 
hall, rings are fastened on four pillars opposite to each other, 
each pillar having nine rings. When the Raja takes his seat 
in the hall, they put a dais in the middle of these four pillars, 
and nine canopies of various stuffs are fastened above it to 
the rings. The Raja sits on the dais below the canopies, 

whereupon the drummers beat their drums and gongs 

There are other houses in Garhgaon, strong, very 
long and spacious, full of fine mats, which must be seen to be 
appreciated. But alas, unless this kingdom be annexed to 
His Majesty's dominions, not even an infidel could see all 
these fine things without falling into the misfortunes into 
which we fell. . . . Indeed it is a pleasant place. As the soil 
of the country is very damp, the people do not live on the 
ground floor, but on a machan, which is the name for a 
" raised floor." 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 148 

The country is characterized as wild and inaccessible, and State of 
cultivation existed only near the banks o£ the Brahmaputra. f|^ lva " 
On the whole, the north bank was the better tilled. The 
tract between Koliabar and Garhgaon, however, was every- 
where well cultivated, as also was the country between the 
Brahmaputra and the Dining*. At Debargaon there were 
numerous orange trees, bearing a fine crop of very large and 
juicy oranges, which were sold in the Muhammadan camp 
at the rate of ten for a pice. 

Then, as now, the staple food of the country was rice, but Chief pro- 
the soil seemed suitable for the cultivation of wheat and ducts# 
barley. Cocoanut trees were rare, but pepper, spikenard, 
lemons and oranges were plentiful ; mangoes also were 
common, but, as is still the case, they were stringy and full 
of worms. Pineapples were large and of good quality. The 
sugarcane was sweet but hard. Salt was dear and bitter. 
The ducks and fowls were very large. Gold was found in 
the rivers, and about ten thousand persons were engaged in 
washing for it. Gold mohars and rupees were coined by the 
Raja, but there was no copper coinage, cowries being used 
instead. Silver, copper and tin were obtained from the hills ; 
also musk and lignum aloes. Wild elephants were numerous, 
and a catch of one hundred and twenty elephants in'a single 
drive is mentioned.* Deer were comparatively scarce. 

It was estimated that, if Assam were administered like Capacity 
other parts of the Mughal empire, the land tax and the !? r taxa * 
revenue from wild elephants and other imposts might amount 
to forty-five lakhs of rupees. 

The hills were inhabited by Miris, Nagas, Mishmis, Hill 
Daflas and other tribes. They paid no tribute, but most of tribe8, 
them regarded the Ahom king with awe, and generally 
submitted to his orders. This was not the case with the 
Daflas, who often committed raids. 

The climate of the country along the Brahmaputra was Climate, 

* Even larger catches are caught 160 elephants in a khedda 
recorded in the Ahom Buranjis. at Larapara in February 1654. 
Jayadhvaj Singh is said to have 



144 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

healthy, but the districts remote from the river were deadly 
to strangers. In the cold weather, fluxes and fevers attacked 
the natives and spared strangers, but in the rains, strangers 
suffered more than natives, especially from bilious attacks. 
The climate of Namrup, the place to which the Raja fled 
when Garhgaon was taken, was deadly to all alike, and an 
Assamese proverb is quoted to the effect that " if a bird flies 
over it, bats will yield their lives, and if steel enters the 
ground, it turns to wax." The Rajas used to banish to this 
place those whom their sword had spared. 
Chakra- Jayadhvaj Singh left no sons ; so the nobles called in the 

dhvaj Saring Raja and placed him on the throne. The Buranjis 
1663 to are not agreed as to the relationship which existed between 
1670. him an d his predecessor. According to some, he was a 
brother, while others say that he was a cousin, and others 
again, that he was the grandson of some previous king. In 
some of the Buranjis it is said that Jayadhvaj Singh had 
two sons, neither of whom was considered fit to rule, but the 
weight of evidence is on the other side. The author of the 
Fathiyah i 'Ibriyah distinctly says : " The present Raja's 
wife only gives birth to daughters and has no son, hence the 
word succession has a bad name in Assam." 

The new monarch was christened Supungmung by the 
Deodhais. He assumed the Hindu name Chakradhvaj Singh. 
At the ceremony of installation the Brahmans and Ganaks 
were entertained at a feast and were given many valuable 
presents. The Jaintia Raja paid a congratulatory visit, and 
envoys with a message of felicitation were received from the 
Koch Raja of Darrang, who had sided with Mir Jumlah 
during his invasion, and with whom friendly relations were 
thus restored. About the same time two Muhammadan 
officials arrived with presents (originally intended for Jaya- 
dhvaj Singh) and a reminder that the balance of the indemnity 
was overdue. The king received them coolly ; he complained 
that their master had not kept faith with him in the matter 
of the boundary, and that the prisoners taken during the 
late war had not been released. It is said that, on receiving 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 145 

this reply, Aurangzeb promised to give up any portion of the 
newly-acquired country that had not previously been included 
in the dominions of the Koch kings, but, in spite of this, 
Chakradhvaj still withheld payment of the outstanding 
portion of the indemnity. Rashid Khan, the Faujdar of 
Gauhati, again sent a messenger to ask for it, but, as he 
would not agree to make the customary obeisance on entering 
the royal presence, the king refused to receive him. The 
messenger afterwards gave way and obtained an audience, but 
he failed to get any portion of the money and elephants that 
were still due, the excuse being that there was no money in 
the treasury and that the elephants could not be sent until 
they were properly trained. 

Soon afterwards it transpired that the Neog Phukan and 
some others were engaged in a treasonable correspondence 
with the Muhammadans, and they were arrested and put to 
death. 

In 1665 the Banpara Nagas were attacked by the Naga and 

Banchang Nagas and, being 1 worsted, invoked the assistance ^k* 

. . T . expedi- 

of the Ahoms. Their petition was granted and an expedition tions. 

was sent. The Banchangias made a stubborn resistance, but 

in the end they were driven off. They returned as soon as 

the Ahom troops were withdrawn, and a fresh expedition was 

despatched. On this occasion they successfully resisted all 

attempts to take the fort which they had erected until cannon 

were brought up, when they fled. Their houses and 

granaries were destroyed and they then submitted. 

About the same time the Miris raided and destroyed a 
small expedition that was sent against them. A larger force 
was then despatched, and although the Miris, aided by the 
Daflas and Deori Chutiyas, had collected a force of 7,500 
men, they appear to have been overawed by the strength of 
the Ahom army, and they dispersed without giving battle. 
Their villages were sacked and the persons found in them 
were taken captive. 

The year 1665 was remarkable for an exceptionally severe Famine of 
drought, which not only prevented cultivation, but made it 1665# 



146 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 



Renewal 
of hostili- 
ties with 
the 

Muham- 
madans. 



necessary in many parts to dig deep wells in order to obtain 
water for drinking. This is the only occasion in the whole 
course of Assam history when the rains failed to an extent 
sufficient to cause a complete failure of the crops. 

Early in 1667 Saiad Firuz Khan, who had succeeded 
Rashid Khan as Thanadar of Gauhati, sent a strongly worded 
letter to the Ahom king, demanding the payment of the 
balance of the indemnity still outstanding. It is not quite 
clear how much remained unpaid. In only one Buranji is 
the subject at all fully dealt with, and that one is very 
obscure. It appears that elephants were sometimes sent in 
lieu of money, and that their value was calculated at 
Rs. 2,000 each ; at this rate it would seem that a sum of 
Rs. 1,12,000 was still due. 

Chakradhvaj Singh had already been busily engaged in 
repairing the forts at Samdhara and Patakallang, and in 
restoring his army to a state of efficiency ; and, on receiving 
Firuz Khan's letter, he made up his mind to fight. His 
nobles tried to dissuade him, and pointed to the disastrous 
results of the last war and the still impoverished condition of 
the people. But the king refused to listen to them, and his 
determination was strengthened on his hearing from the 
Deodhais that, in the event of war, the omens presaged a 
successful issue. The necessary preparations were made with 
all speed; and, in August 1667, after sacrifices had been offered 
to Indra, a well-equipped army set out, to wrest Gauhati 
from the Muhammadans. The command was entrusted to 
Lachit, the son of the Bar Barua, who was appointed Bar 
Phukan. The Muhammadan outposts at Kajali on the south, 
and Bansbari on the north, bank of the Brahmaputra were 
taken at the first assault : numerous prisoners and many 
horses, cannon and other booty fell into the hands of the 
victors, and were sent to the king at Garhgaon. The Ahoms 
constructed forts at Kajali and Latasil, and continued their 
advance towards Gauhati. They won several engagements, 
but suffered a minor reverse on the bank of the Barnadi, where 
a small stockade, which they had erected, was taken by the 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 147 

Muhammadans and its garrison put to the sword. This, 
however, did not affect the general course of the campaign. 

Gauhati and Pandu were invested, and were captured after Conquest 
a siege of two months, in the course of which the Muham- of 
madans made several spirited but unsuccessful sallies. Many- 
prisoners and cannon and a great quantity of booty were 
taken. The actual cash was divided amongst the soldiers, 
but everything else was forwarded to the king. 

Early in November a number of war ships arrived with 
reinforcements for the Muhammadans, who renewed the 
conflict, but still without success. They were driven from 
Agiathuthi, and suffered a series of defeats as they gradually 
fell back on the Monas river. Here they made a stand, but 
fortune was again adverse. They were completely surrounded ; 
a great number were slain, and most of the remainder, 
including Firuz Khan, were made prisoners. The captured 
officers were sent to Garhgaon, but the common soldiers were 
ruthlessly slaughtered. 

An inscription in Assamese on the Kanai Barasi rock near 
the Mani Karnesvar temple in Kamrup records the erection of 
an Ahom fort there in Sak 1589 (1667 A.D.) u after the 
defeat and death of Sana and Saiad Firuz.'" An old cannon 
in the possession of Mr. Wood of Silghat bears the following 
inscription in Sanskrit : — " King Chakradhvaj Singh, having 
again destroyed the Muhammadans in battle in 1589 Sak. 
obtained this weapon, which proclaims his glory as the slayer 
of his enemies."" Another old cannon at Dikom bears a 
similar inscription, which refers to a victory in the following 
year. This cannon is peculiarly interesting, as it also has an 
inscription in Persian, reciting that it was placed in charge of 
Saiad Ahmad al Husain for the purpose of conquering 
Assam in 1074 Hijri (1663 A.D.). 

When the news of these successes reached the king, he 
was overjoyed, and showered presents on his successful 
generals. Gauhati was chosen as the head-quarters of the Bar 
Phukan. Pandu and Srighat were strongly fortified, and 
prompt arrangements were made for the administration of the 



war 



148 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

conquered territory. A survey of the country was carried out 
and a census was taken of the population. 
Fresh I n 1668 there were hostilities with the Muhammadans at 

Muham- Rangamati, where a Raja named Indra Daman was apparently 
madan . q comman( j . j^g troops were defeated at Kakphak, on the 
south bank of the Brahmaputra but, on his coming 1 up in 
person with reinforcements, the Ahoms fell back on Srighat. 
His attack on this place failed, and he retreated to Jakhalia. 
But a fresh enemy was soon to appear on the scene. The 
news of the defeat of Firuz Khan, and of the loss of 
Gauhati, reached Aurangzeb in December 1667. He at once 
resolved to wipe out the disgrace, and, with this object, 
appointed Raja Ram Singh to the command of an Imperial 
army, which was to be strengthened by troops of the Bengal 
command. He was accompanied by Rashid Khan, the old 
thanadar of Gauhati. Some time was taken up in collecting 
and transporting his army, which consisted of 18,000 cavalry 
and 30,000 infantry, with 15,000 archers from Koch Bihar ; 
and he did not reach Rangamati until February 1669.* 
The Ahoms had not quite completed their preparations for 
resisting his advance, so resorted once more to their old device 
of opening insincere negotiations in order to gain time. They 
sent to enquire of Ram Singh why he was invading the country. 
He replied by referring to the old treaty under which 
the Bar Nadi and the Asurar Ali had been taken as the 
boundary, and demanding the evacuation of the country to 
the west of this line. By the time he received this reply, the 
Bar Phukan had completed his dispositions. He replied that 
he would rather fight than yield an inch of the territory which 
Providence had given to his master. In spite of this somewhat 
bombastic announcement, he seems to have retreated some 
distance before he ventured to close with the invaders, 
and the first two battles in the campaign were fought 
near Tezpur in the beginning of April. The Ahoms were 

* These figures are taken from Alamgirnawah, where the subject 
the Buramjis. The strength of is dealt with very briefly. (Bibl, 
the expedition is not stated in the Ind., edition, page 1068.) 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 149 

worsted on both occasions, but they gained a naval battle and 
soon afterwards repulsed the Muhammadans in an attack on 
their fort at Rangmahal. Earn Singh was compelled to retire 
to Hajo, where he quarrelled with Rashid Khan. He 
suspected the latter of siding with the Ahoms, and eventually 
cut his tent ropes and ordered him out of the camp. Soon 
afterwards he was again defeated near Sualkucki, both on land 
and water. 

At this juncture, it is said that Ram Singh challenged 
Chakradhvaj Singh to single combat, and undertook, if he 
were defeated, to return with his army to Bengal. The Ahorn 
king declined the invitation, and ordered his generals to 
renew their attack. They did so, and won another double 
engagement near Sessa. They followed up this success by 
taking the fort at Agiathuti, the garrison of which they 
massacred, but soon afterwards Ram Singh attacked the 
Ahom army and routed it, inflicting heavy loss. The Bar 
Phukan hurried up with reinforcements, but his flank was 
turned and he was obliged to retreat with the loss of all his 
ships. For this he was severely censured by the king. Raja 
Ram Singh now opened negotiations for peace. The Ahoms 
also were tired of the war, and hostilities were suspended for a 
time. 

Soon afterwards Chakradhvaj died. His reign was so Death of 
fully occupied by constant wars that there was very little dhvaf*" 
time for the execution of public works, and the only road Singh, 
constructed was that from Teliadanga to Jhanzimukh. 

His brother Maju Gohain, thenceforth known as Sunyat- Udayadi- 
pha, succeeded him. He assumed the Hindu name Udaya- -,^ . 
ditya Singh, and married his deceased brother's wife. 1673. 

The negotiations with the Muhammadans continued. The war 
Raja Ram Singh proposed that the old boundary should be ]!? fc ^ **! 
maintained, and the Bar Phukan expressed his concurrence, madans is 
but, while he was waiting for the Ahom king's confirmation, renewe< l- 
Ram Singh, who had received reinforcements and apparently 
suspected his sincerity, advanced with his army to Sitamari 
and sent a detachment into Darrang. Udayaditya thereupon 



150 THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 



Ultimate 

success of 

Ahoms 

who 

annex 

Kamrup. 



Dafla ex- 
pedition. 



prepared to renew the war, and ordered the Burha Gohain to 
march with 20,000 men from Samdhara to Srighat. The 
Muhammadans advanced to meet them, and a dual engage- 
ment ensued. The Ahoms were successful on land, but their 
navy was forced to retreat to Barhila, and the army was 
thus also obliged to fall back. The arrival of the Bar Phukan 
with more ships enabled the Ahoms to return to the 
attack. This time the Muhammadan navy was beaten, and 
a second land victory was gained by the Ahoms. 

A series of encounters followed, but the Buranjis are con- 
fused, and it is impossible to follow the operations in detail. 
The G aros and the Raja of Rani came to the assistance of 
the Ahoms and, in March 1671, Ram Singh had become so 
weakened by repeated losses that he retreated, first to the 
Haran river, and afterwards to Rangamati.* 

The news of his departure was conveyed to Udayaditya, 
who received it with great joy, and loaded the Bar Phukan 
with presents. Hadira, opposite G oalpara, now became the 
Ahom frontier outpost. Chandra Narayan, f son of Mahendra 
and grandson of Bali Narayan, was installed as tributary Raja 
of Darrang, on the north of the Brahmaputra, and Gandharba 
Narayan, as Raja of Beltola. The Bar Barua and the Bar 
Gohain were entrusted with the arrangements for the defence 
of Upper Assam. But the Muhammadans showed no desire 
to renew the contest, and for some years there was peace 
between the two nations. 

The opportunity was taken to send an expedition of one 
thousand men under the Bar Barua against the Daflas, who 
had refused to pay tribute, and had raided a village, killing 
three men, and carrying away forty women and children. 
The Bar Barua entered their country, and called upon them 
to surrender their captives, but they declined to do so. 
He advanced to the Sikling river, whence he detached a 



* According to the Alamgirnd- 
mah, Ram Singh was in Assam from 
1667 till 1685, but this doubtless 
includes the period for which 
Rangamati was his head-quarters 



t This is the name given in the 
Ahom Buranjis, but possibly the 
correct name is Surya Narayan. 



THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 151 

force to attack the hillmeu, but they hid themselves in the 
dense jungle and the detachment returned without finding 
them. The Bar Barua then began to retrace his steps, but, on 
the receipt of a peremptory order from the Raja to persevere, 
he constructed a fort on the bank of the Bharali and ascended 
again to Sikling, whence he advanced by successive stages to 
the Pati, Tilari, and Petarhing rivers. His advance guard 
took a village on a hill, but the Daflas then surrounded and 
destroyed it. The Bar Barua, on hearing of this disaster, 
again beat a retreat, whereupon the king ordered him to be 
arrested, stripped naked and put to death, but on the inter- 
cession of the queen-mother, the sentence was commuted to 
one of dismissal and banishment. 

After the cessation of hostilities with the Muhammadans Insurrec- 
vigorous enquiries were set on foot with a view to the arrest S? 11 " ^ f 
and deportation to Namrup of all the chiefs and other pro- the king, 
minent men who had been disloyal to the Ahom cause. In 
the course of these enquiries, it was reported that amongst 
those who had taken the part of the Muhammadans was a 
priest named Chakrapani, a descendant of the Vaishnava 
reformer Sankar Deb, but it was impossible to punish him as 
he had escaped across the frontier. The accounts which he 
heard of this man's learning and piety aroused the king's 
interest ; he induced him to pay him a visit under promise of 
pardon and, after hearing him discourse, was so impressed, 
that he gave him a grant of land at Samaguri and made him 
his spiritual preceptor. He ordered his officers and people to 
follow his example, and many did so, but some of the 
nobles were greatly offended and persuaded his younger brother 
to join them in a conspiracy against him. This became known 
to the king, who at once ordered the gates of the city to be 
closed and his brother to be arrested. The latter, being thus 
driven to extremities, collected his adherents and appeared 
with them at one of the gates in the middle of the night. 
The guards refused to let him in, but he broke down the 
gate and, entering the city, seized the person of the king. 
He put to death the Bar Barua and other officials who had 



15B THE PERIOD OF THE MUHAMMADAN WARS. 

refused to countenance the conspiracy. The people then 
hailed him as king. Next day Udayaditya was taken to 
Charaideo and poisoned. His three wives were put to death, 
while the unfortunate priest; who had unwittingly caused 
the revolution, was impaled and set adrift on a raft on the 
Dikhu river. These events took place in August 1673. 

This reign was remarkable chiefly for the eviction of the 
Musalmans from Kamrup, and the construction of strong 
fortifications at Gauhati. By this time the Ahoms were able 
to make their own cannon, and there is one at Gauhati, near 
the house of the Deputy Commissioner, which bears an 
inscription to the effect that it was made under the orders of 
the Sola Dhara Barua in the reign of this king, in the year 
1594 Sak, which corresponds to 1672 A.D. 

In 1671 a treasure house at Hilikha, containing a great 
store of gold and silver, was burnt down. Enquiry showed 
that the Bharali Barua was responsible for the fire, which was 
caused by his carelessly leaving a lighted pipe near some 
inflammable material, and he was compelled, as a punish- 
ment, to smoke elephants' dung. 

The plot which resulted in Udayaditya's death was not 
the only one in his reign ; another was planned soon after 
his accession ; it was detected in time, and the conspirators 
were caught, but most of them were afterwards pardoned. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 153 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

The fratricide now ascended the throne. He assumed Ram- 
the Ahom name Suklarupha and the Hindu name Ramdhvaj. i^^\ Q 
He rewarded with the post of Bar Barua the ring leader of 1675. 
the conspiracy which brought him to the throne, whose 
name was Debera alias Lachai. Almost immediately the 
Bar Gohain set on foot a plot in favour of the Saring Raja, but 
it was discovered, and he and the Saring Raja were both put 
to death. 

A force was sent against the Deori Chutiyas, who had Expedi- 
become insubordinate, and they were quickly reduced to order ; tlon . 8 
many of their males were deported, and a yearly tribute of Deori 
boats was exacted. There was also trouble with the Mishmis^ Chutiyas 
who had made a raid in Ahom territory. They surrounded a Mishmis. 
small detachment of 100 men which was sent against them, 
but submitted on the arrival of a stronger force under the Bar 
Phukan, and gave up the men responsible for the raid. 

The king now became seriously ill and sent for his The king 
brothers, the Rajas of Tipam and Namrup. In anticipation 1S mar " 
of his early decease, the question of the succession was 
hotly discussed by the nobles. Some were in favour 
of one or other of the king's brothers ; others pressed 
the claims of Prince Ladam, his son by the chief queen, 
and others again urged that the son of Udayaditya should 
be the next king. The Bar Barua, Debera, foresaw that 
his position would be one of great danger if the last- 
mentioned succeeded to the throne, and determined to do 
all in his power to prevent him. With this object he collected 
a band of armed men. The king heard of this and, thinking 
perhaps that there was a conspiracy on foot against himself, 
ordered him to be arrested and put to death. The Bar Barua, 
however, was on the alert and seized and murdered the men 



154 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

sent to arrest him. He also killed or mutilated some other 
officers whom he looked on as his enemies, and finally, in 
March 1675, caused the king to be poisoned. 
Suhung, The nobles in council decided to raise Udayaditya's son 

to the throne, but they reckoned without the Bar Barua, who, 
calling in his band of armed men, seized and put to death his 
chief opponents, and installed as king a prince named Suhung 
from Samaguri. Suhung took as his chief queen one of the 
widows of Jayadhvaj Singh, who was a sister of the Bar 
Phukan. 

The Tipam Raja, who was one of the rival claimants to the 
throne, raised an army and marched towards the capital. 
He was met and defeated by the Bar Barua, and was caught 
and executed. The Bar Barua also, on his own motion, put 
to death a number of his private enemies, whom he enticed 
from Gauhati on the pretence that the king had sent for them. 
Suhung, finding that he was nothing more than a puppet in 
the hands of this crafty and overbearing minister, sought 
means to kill him, but the Bar Barua was informed of his 
danger by a servant, and so caused the king to be assassinated 
after a reign of only 21 days. 
Gobar, The Bar Barua next brought from Tungkhang a prince 

1675. named Gobar, grandson of the Deo Raja, and made him king. 
Soon afterwards he sent a message to the Bar Gohain, who was 
then at Gauhati, asking him to send in the Bar Phukan. The 
messengers were intercepted by the latter who, suspecting that 
his life was in danger, induced the Bar Gohain and Sangrai 
Burha Gohain to join with him in putting an end to the reign 
of terror, which, he said, would prevail so long as the Bar Barua 
lived. They swore a solemn oath of fidelity to each other, 
raised an army, and marched against the Bar Barua and his 
new protege. The Bar Barua advanced to meet them, but, 
when his enemies approached, his troops deserted him, and he 
was fain to seek safety in flight. He was pursued and captured, 
and taken before the Bar Phukan, who caused him to be 
executed. Gobar was also taken, and put to death. He had 
been king for barely a month. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 155 

The number of near relations of recent kings was nowSujinpha, 
small, and it was by no means easy to find a suitable 16 ^ ° 
candidate for the throne. After a prolonged discussion it was 
decided to nominate a prince of the Dihingia clan named 
Sujinpha, a son of the Namrup Raja and a descendant 
of Suhungmung, the Dihingia Kaja. He ascended the 
throne with great eclat. Large sums of money were 
distributed amongst the people and the festivities con- 
tinued for seven days. Before installing him, the nobles 
had themselves appointed a new Bar Barua in the place of 
the deceased Debera. 

There had been so many conspiracies during the last few 
years that the new king resolved to protect himself by exact- 
ing an oath of fealty from all his officers. Cannon were 
posted at the gates of the city and the streets were lined with 
soldiers ; the various officers of State were then summoned 
to attend and take the prescribed oath. Many of them, 
however, were so incensed by the order, and by the want of 
confidence in them that it implied, that, instead of going to 
the capital, they entered into a conspiracy with the Burha 
Gohain. This noble secretly collected some men and, in the 
dead of night, entered the city and surrounded the palace. 
At this moment the king woke up and saw them in the 
courtyard. He at once grasped the position and, rushing out, 
sword in hand, attacked them with such vigour that they 
fled leaving several of their number dead upon the ground. 
When morning came, many of the conspirators were caught. 
They were pardoned on their swearing to be faithful in the 
future. They were required to take a two-fold oath, one 
in the presence of Brahmans before a Salgram of Lakshmi 
Narayan, a copy of the Bhagavat and a tuhi plant, and the 
other according to the old Ahom method, by the shedding 
of blood before the great drum. The Burha Gohain was not 
amongst those that were caught ; he escaped in a boat and 
went down the Dikhu river to Lakhau, where he was joined by 
a number of disaffected people from Gauhati. The king 
sent the Bar Gohain and the Barpatra Gohain to induce him 



156 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

to come in, under a solemn promise of pardon, but he was not 
convinced of the sincerity of these assurances and refused to 
submit. He tried to win over to his side the officers who had 
been sent to fetch him, and persuaded the Bar Gohain to 
desert the king's cause ; he was unable to seduce the Bar Patra 
Gohain from his allegiance, although he was his son-in-law, 
and so sent him under a guard to Koliabar. He himself 
advanced to Sinatali, where he met and defeated a force which 
the king had sent against him. The king thereupon fled to 
Garhgaon. He was seized, and his eyes were put out ; and he 
was afterwards stoned to death.* His body was buried at 
Charaideo. This was in July 1677. Of the king's four sons 
the eldest, Dighala, managed to escape ; the second was 
blinded and sent to Namrup, and the two youngest were 
put to death. 
Sudaiphn, The nobles now urged the Burha Gohain to assume the 
1677 to kingly office, but he was not of the royal blood, and the Bai- 
long pandits, on being consulted, declared themselves strongly 
opposed to the suggestion. He therefore obtained the assent 
of the nobles to the nomination of Khamcheo of the Parbatiya, 
clan, a grandson of a former king, who was brought from 
Charaideo, and installed under the Ahom name Sudaipha. 
It does not appear that he took any Hindu name. On 
ascending the throne, he performed the Riklchvm ceremony 
and offered sacrifices to Siva as well as to the Ahom gods. 
Warned by the fate of his predecessor he determined to propi- 
tiate the Burha Gohain; he married his daughter, bestowed 
upon him a landed estate and numerous other presents, and 
cave him a high-sounding title. The ascendancy now enjoyed 
by the Burha Gohain soon aroused the jealousy of the other 
hio-h officials. At his instance the Bar Barua, who had 
become obnoxious to him, was dismissed and, fearing for his 
personal safety, fled to Srighat. The Belmela Phukan was 
the next to be disgraced. In revenge, he determined to 
assassinate the king. He crept into the palace at night, but 

* According to another account had been deprived of his eye sight, 
he committed suicide after he 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 157 

in the darkness, by mistake, he killed the king's mother 
instead of the king ; he then fled to Tamulihat. 

The Burha Gohain soon fell foul of the Bar Phukan, who 
had not shown himself sufficiently subservient, and sought for 
an opportunity to oust him from his appointment. The latter 
was informed of his impending ruin and, knowing that it 
would be useless to appeal to the king, entered into treason- 
able correspondence with the Nawab of Bengal, who arranged 
to send Prince Muhammad Azam in the following February 
to take possession of Gauhati, which the Bar Phukan agreed 
to deliver into his hands. The plot was divulged to 
Sudaipha, who at once took steps to frustrate it. He 
hastily raised an army and divided it into two parts, one of 
which he stationed at Chintamani, while the other was sent 
down-stream to resist the advance of the Muhammadans. 
But it was too late to save Gauhati, which was surrendered 
to the Muhammadans by the Bar Phukan early in March 
1679. This is the Ahom version. In the Maasir~i-Alamgiri 
the " conquest " of Gauhati is mentioned, but no details 
are given.* 

The dissatisfaction with the administration of Sudaipha, 
or rather of the Burha Gohain, continued to spread ; and soon 
afterwards three high officials openly allied themselves to the 
Bar Phukan, who raised an army and advanced towards the 
capital. He met with little or no resistance and, as he 
advanced, most of the local officials joined his force. Those 
who refused to do so were killed. By November 1679 
he had made himself master of the whole kingdom. He 
seized the person of the king, and caused him to be put 
to death. This he did with the consent of a prince named 
Sulikpha, whom he proceeded to raise to the throne, without 
even pretending to consult the other great nobles. 

In this reign the town of Boka was built. The con- 
struction of a Sil Sako or stone bridge is also mentioned, 
but this was not the well-known structure near Kamalpur in 

* Ed. Bibl. Ind., page 173. 



1681. 



158 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Kamrup, which is commonly believed to have been erected at 
a much earlier date. 

T n v3 

Raja, Sulikpha, from his tender age, was generally known as 

1679 to Lara Raja, or "the boy king." Prompted by the Bar 
Phukan, his first act was to cause the execution of Sangrai, 
the Burha Gohain, who had compassed the death of Gobar 
and Sujinpha, and whose overbearing conduct had led to the 
rebellion which culminated in the late king's death. The 
Bar Phukan now occupied the position recently held by the 
Burha Gohain and, before him, by Debera Bar Barua. But, 
undeterred by their fate, he resolved not merely, as they had 
done, to exercise the power, but also to assume the rank of 
king. It is said that he communicated his design to the 
Emperor of Delhi, who sent a reply conveying his approval, 
but whether this be true or not, there is no doubt that he 
openly asserted his equality with the king and clothed 
himself in garments which the latter alone was allowed to 
wear. But his triumph was short-lived. His overweening 
arrogance set the other nobles against him, and he was 
assassinated. His three sons and two of his brothers shared 
his fate. The Bhatdhara Phukan, a third brother, who was 
at Koliabar, saved his life by a timely flight to Muhammadan 
territory, where he tried to induce the local officials to give 
him troops to avenge his brother's death. He seems to 
have received some encouragement from Prince Muhammad 
Azam, but the latter had not a sufficiently strong force at 
his disposal to invade the Ahom country with any great 
prospect of success ; and, in the end, he decided not to interfere. 
In order to prevent further conspiracies, by removing all 
possible rivals, Lara Raja determined to maim or kill all the 
descendants of former kings, and it is said that several 
hundred scions of the royal family were deprived of life or 
mutilated. He failed, however, to find one of his most 
formidable rivals ; and Gadapani, the son of Gobar, though 
he was sought for everywhere, succeeded in eluding his 
pursuers. 

Lara Raja soon proved himself to be a most unsatisfactory 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 159 

king. He aroused the resentment of his nobles, not only 
by his incapacity and utter want of aptitude for public 
business, but also by his tyrannical conduct. In July 1681, 
the Bar Phukan openly espoused the cause of Gadapani 
who, up to this time, had 'been living in concealment near 
Rani, in the house of a Garo woman, wearing the garb 
of a common peasant, and working in the field like an 
ordinary cultivator. The king prepared to resist, but he 
had no real supporters \ and, as the rebels advanced towards 
the capital, his army rapidly melted away. The Dakhinpat 
Gosain, who was the Guru both of the king and of the Bar 
Phukan, in vain exhorted the latter to return to his alle- 
giance. The king, deserted by all, sought safety in flight, 
but was caught and banished to Namrup. He was afterwards 
put to death for intriguing to recover the throne. 

In this reign the Dauki Ali was made. 

Since the death of Chakradhvaj Singh in 1670, i.e., in Summary 
the short space of eleven years, there had been no less than ^^since 
seven kings, not one of whom had died a natural death. 1670. 
Udayaditya was deposed and poisoned by his brother, Kam- 
dhvaj, who succeeded him. Debera, who had headed the 
conspiracy, was rewarded for his infamous services with the 
post of Bar Barua ; but he was a born intriguer, and not 
long afterwards, Ramdhvaj himself met his death at his 
hands. He then set up Suhung, but subsequently caused him 
also to be assassinated. Having thus been responsible for 
the death of three kings, Debera at last met the end he 
deserved at the hands of the Burha Gohain, who, however, 
was equally false and unscrupulous. He put to death 
Suhung's successor Gobar, and placed Sujinpha on the 
throne. He afterwards caused the latter to be deprived of his 
sight and put to death, and appointed Sadaipha as his 
successor. This king and the Burha Gohain himself next 
suffered the death penalty at the hands of Laluk Bar Phukan, 
and Sulikpha became king. The Bar Phukan, growing 
more ambitious, was preparing to seize the throne for himself, 
when the other nobles caused him to be assassinated, 



160 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Sulikpha was soon afterwards deposed and put to death 

on the ground of his unfitness to rule, a circumstance which 

had probably constituted his chief qualification in the eyes 

of the ambitious Laluk. With his death, and the accession 

of Gadapani, the era of weak and incompetent princes, and 

of unscrupulous and ambitious ministers came to an end ; 

internal corruption and dissensions ceased, and the Ahoms 

were once more able to present a united face against their 

external foes. 

Gadadl ar On ascending the throne, Gadapani assumed the Ahom 

1681 t name Supatpha, and the Hindu name Gadadhar Singh. He 

1696. made his capital at Barkola. 

Gauhati His first act was to equip an army to oust the Muham- 

retaken ma d ans from Gauhati. He appears to have met with very 
Muham- little opposition. The forts at Bansbari and Kajali fell at 
madans. ^ e £ rg £ assau ^ a nd a great naval victory was gained near 
the mouth of the Barnadi, the whole of the enemy's fleet 
falling into the hands of the Ahoms. This misfortune 
seems to have paralyzed the Faujdar of Gauhati; and he 
fled without offering any further resistance to the 
advancing Ahoms, who pursued him as far as the Monas. 
A vast amount of booty was taken at Gauhati, including 
gold and silver ; elephants, horses and buffaloes ; cannon of all 
sizes ; and guns, swords and spears. These spoils were offered 
to the king and were distributed by him among the officers 
who had led the troops to victory. The Bhatdhara Phukan, 
who had attempted to incite the Muhammadans to invade 
Assam, was captured with his son, and an awful punishment 
was inflicted upon him. His son was killed and he was 
compelled to eat his flesh, after which he also was put to 
death. A Muhammadan spy, who was caught, was taken 
round the camp and shown all the dispositions of the Ahom 
commanders, and was then killed. 

This was the last Muhammadan war. Henceforward the 
Monas was accepted by both sides as the boundary. This 
final loss of Gauhati is not mentioned by Muhammadan 
historians. The Buranjis give the name of the Musalman 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 161 

Commander as Mansar Khan, a doubtful name. Possibly the 
word Mansaldar, which means ' commander/ was taken by 
the Ahoms as a proper name ; or it may be a corruption of 
Masum Khan, which occurs as the name of a Muhammadan 
Bhuiya of Sunargaon who took part in the invasion of 
1636. 

Two cannon are still in existence, one at Dikom, and the 
other outside the house of the Deputy Commissioner of 
Lakhimpur, which bear the following inscription : — " King 
Gadadhar Singh, having vanquished the Musalmans at 
Gauhati, obtained this weapon in 1604 Sak (1682 A.D.)." 

There were several conspiracies during the early part of Internal 
Gadadhar's reign. The Bar Phukan and Pani Phukan, who c ? n8 P ira " 
were accused of plotting against the king, were arrested and 
tried by the three Gohains, who reported them guilty, in spite 
of their protestations of innocence. Their lives were spared in 
consideration of their past services, but they were dismissed 
from their appointments ; a number of minor officials accused 
of complicity were put to death. Soon afterwards a second 
conspiracy was detected, and on this occasion the ringleaders 
suffered the death penalty. A searching enquiry was now 
made into the origin of these conspiracies, and all suspects 
were severely dealt with ; the Burha Gohain, the Bar Barua 
and the newly appointed Pani Phukan were dismissed, and 
many others were executed, or banished to Namrup. The 
man who was now made Burha Gohain soon got into 
trouble. A servant of his predecessor complained that he had 
misappropriated a number of stray cattle. The charge was 
investigated and found to be proved, and he and his sons were 
put to death. 

In 1685 the Miris raided by night, and set fire to the Miri and 
house of the Sadiya Khowa Gohain. A punitive expedition Naga ex- 
was sent against them, and they were defeated, with the loss 
of four killed and a large number of prisoners ; much booty 
was also taken. As a precaution against further raids 
embanked roads were constructed from the Brahmaputra to 
two forts in the Miri country, and were furnished with 



162 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 



Persecu- 
tion of 
Vaish- 
nava 
sects. 



fortified gateways.* The Sadiya, Khowa Gohain was dis- 
missed from his appointment on account of the apathy shown 
by him during these operations. 

The Nagas made a raid on the inhabitants of the Doyang 
valley, and a punitive expedition was sent against them. 
They fled, but their houses were burnt down, and they then 
submitted and were pardoned, after they had given compensa- 
tion for the losses inflicted on the villagers. A raid by the 
Namsang Nagas led to another expedition, in which many 
Nagas, including the tribal chief, were captured and 
beheaded. 

The neo-Vaishnava sects, founded on the teaching of 

Sankar Deb, had now attained remarkable dimensions. The 

country was full of religious preceptors and their followers, 

who claimed exemption from the universal liability to fight 

and to assist in the construction of roads and tanks and other 

public works. This caused serious inconvenience, which the 

Sakta Brahmans, who had the king's ear, lost no opportunity 

of exaggerating. Gadadhar Singh was himself a good liver ; 

and he feared the physical deterioration that might ensue if 

his people obeyed the injunction of the Gosains and abstained 

from eating the flesh of cattle, swine and fowls, and from 

indulging in strong drinks. He bore, moreover, a personal 

grudge against some of the leading Gosains for having refused 

to shelter him in the days when he was in hiding, and for 

having endeavoured to dissuade the Bar Phukan from his 

design to set him up as king in the place of Lara Raja. He 

therefore resolved to break their power for good and all.f 

Under his orders many of them were sent to Namrup and 

put to death there. The Auniati Gosain, Keshab Deb, 

escaped this fate by hiding in a Chutiya village, but Bam 

Bapu, the Dakhinpat Gosain, was captured and deprived of 

Muhammadans describe 
ways in connection 



> «The 
similar 

with Mir Jumlah's invasion of 
Koch Bihar. They stood upon a 
broad raised road, mostly over- 
grown with trees, with deep and 
broad ditches on either side. 



f An exception was made in 
favour of the Jakhalabandha 
Gosain, who had not only sheltered 
the king when be was a fugitive, but 
had foretold that he would even- 
tually gain the throne. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 163 

his eyes and his nose ; his property was confiscated and his 
gold and silver idols were melted down. 

Nor did their 6/iakats, or disciples, fare much better. 
Those belonging to the better castes, such as Ganaks, 
Kayasths and Kalitas, were left alone, but their disciples of 
low caste, such as Kewats, Koches, Doms and Haris, were 
hunted down, robbed of their property, and forced to eat the 
flesh of swine, cows, and fowls. Many of them were deported 
to out-of-the-way places and made to work as coolies on 
the roads ; others were mutilated ; others were put to death, 
and a few were offered up as sacrifices to idols. The per- 
secution spread far and wide, and at last no one of any 
persuasion was safe if he had anything worth taking. When 
the king found that things had reached this pass, he ordered 
the persecution to be stopped, and restitution to be made in 
all cases where people had been wrongfully despoiled. 

Gadadhar Singh died in February 1696, after a reign of Death of 
fourteen years and-a-half. When he ascended the throne ^ s \ 
the kingly office was fast sinking into the low estate which it racter and 
held amongst the later Marathas, and the real authority was general 
gradually being monopolized by the nobles ; but in a very re jg n , 
short time he effectually broke their power and vindicated the 
supreme authority of the monarch. At the time of his acces- 
sion, the power of the Ahoms was being sapped by internal 
dissensions ; and patriotic feeling had become so weakened that 
many deserted to the Muhammadans, who had re-occupied 
Gauhati, and were gradually pushing their frontier eastwards. 
The hill tribes too, emboldened by immunity from punishment, 
were harrying the submontane villages and perpetrating 
frequent raids. Before he died, he had quelled all internal 
disputes, revived the waning national spirit, driven the 
Muhammadans beyond the Monas, and, by prompt punitive 
measures, put a stop to raiding and restored the prestige of 
the Ahoms among the turbulent tribes on the frontier. 

He was a patron of Sakta Hinduism. The temple of 
Umananda on Peacock island opposite Gauhati was built 
under his auspices, and the earliest known copper-plates, 

M % 



164 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

recording grants of land by Ahom kings to Brahmans or 
Hindu temples, date from his reign. 

It is impossible to justify, or palliate, the brutal severity 
of the measures which he adopted with a view to overthrow 
the Vaishnava sects, but there can be no doubt that the power 
of their priesthood was already becoming excessive ; and the 
history of the Moamaria insurrection in later times shows that 
the inordinate growth of this power is not only prejudicial 
to progress, but may easily become a very serious menace to 
the safety of established institutions. 

Gadadhar Singh was keenly alive to the importance of 
public works. During his reign the Dhodar Ali, the Aka Ali 
and other roads were made ; two stone bridges were built, and 
several tanks were excavated. A noteworthy measure of this 
monarch was the commencement of a detailed survey of the 
country. He had become acquainted with the land measure- 
ment system of the Muhammadans during the time when he 
was in hiding in Lower Assam, before he succeeded to the 
throne, and, as soon as the wars which occupied the earlier 
years of his reign were over, he issued orders for the introduc- 
tion of a similar system throughout his dominions. Surveyors 
were imported from Koch Bihar and Bengal, and the work, 
which was commenced in Sibsagar, was pushed on vigorously, 
but it was not completed until after his death. The method of 
survey adopted is nowhere described, but it was probably the 
same as that which was in vogue when Assam was first 
occupied by the British. The area of each field was calculated 
by measuring the four sides with a ml, or bamboo pole, 1 2 feet 
long, and multiplying the mean length by the mean breadth. 
The unit of area was the purd, which contained four standard 
Bengali bighas of 1 4,400 square feet. 

This king is reputed to have been a man of very powerful 

physique with a remarkably gross appetite. His favourite 

dish was coarse spring rice, and a calf roasted in ashes. 

Rudra Gadadhar Singh left two sons, of whom the elder succeeded 

1696 to him. H° ascended the throne at Garhgaon, taking the Hindu 

1714. name Rudra Singh, and the Ahom name Sukhrungpha, 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 165 

The body of the late king was interred at Charaideo with 
great ceremony. An effigy of him was made and adorned 
with fine clothes, and men were appointed to make to it daily 
offerings of pigs, fowls, fish and wine. At the same time the 
Ahoms were feasted on the flesh of swine and buffaloes. 

The new king at once began to reverse his father's policy Persecu- 

in regard to the Vaishnava Gosains. Those of them who^i ?. * 

... Vaishnava 

were Brahmans were allowed to resume their old pos ition and sec ts 

avocations, subject only to the condition that they made sto PP e< ^' 
their headquarters on the Majuli, which from that time 
forward became their chief seat. The Auniati Gosain was 
specially honoured, as the king not only recalled him from 
his exile, but appointed him his spiritual preceptor. The 
persecution of the Sudra Medhis also ceased, but Brahmans 
were forbidden to bend the knee to them, and they were com- 
pelled to wear as their distinctive badge small earthen jars 
hanging from a string round the neck. 

Rudra Singh was anxious to build a palace and city of Palace 

brick, but there was no one in his kingdom who knew how a l £ et ?il 
. . & pies built 

to do this. He therefore imported from Koch Bihar an arti- by a 

san named Ghansyam, under whose supervision numerous Bengali 
brick buildings were erected at Rangpur, close to Sibsagar, 
and also at Charaideo. When Ghansyam had finished his 
work, and was on the point of departing, richly rewarded 
by the king, it was accidentally discovered that he had in 
his possession a document containing a full account of the 
country and its inhabitants. It was assumed that his object 
was to betray the Ahoms to the Muhammadans, and he was 
arrested and put to death. 

During the long period that had elapsed since the last w a r with 
war with the Kacharis, the latter had gradually forgotten the 
their frequent defeats at the hands of the Ahoms, and had Kacharis * 
become more and more reluctant to acknowledge their hege- 
mony. At last Tamradhvaj, who was their king when Rudra 
Singh ascended the throne, boldly asserted his independence. 
Rudra Singh at once resolved to reduce him to submission, 
and, with this object, caused two large armies to be fitted out. 



166 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

The Bar Barua was deputed to enter the Kachari country 
by way of the Dhansiri valley with a force which numbered 
over 37,000 men, while the Pani Phukan with another, 
34,000 strong, was to march via Raha and the valley of 
the Kopili. 
The Bar rj\^ e £ ar B arua started from Sala in the latter part of 

march to December 1706, and, ascending the valley of the Dhansiri, 
Maibong. reached the Samaguting fort on the Dijoa Hill, 106 miles 
from Sala.* In order to maintain communications and to 
facilitate the transmission of supplies, forts were constructed 
and garrisoned at regular intervals along the line of march. 
In spite of this precaution, the Nagas gave great trouble 
and constantly plundered the convoys on their way to Sama- 
guting. Troops were sent against them, and a few Nagas 
were killed, but it was not until the garrisons of the forts 
near Samaguting had been very greatly strengthened that 
these raids were put a stop to. 

The march was continued to the Namira fort on Nomal 
hill, a distance of 36 miles, f In the valley below this 
hill the Kacharis made their first stand, but the Ahom forces 
were too strong for them, and they fled, after a very feeble 
resistance, to the Lathia hill, a distance of 9 miles. Here 
they ambuscaded several small parties which had been 
sent forward to clear the jungle, but, when an advance 
was made in force, they were defeated with considerable loss, 
and retreated, carrying their dead with them. They now 
took up a position on a hill near Amlakhi, but fled on the 
arrival of the Ahoms at Tarang, a place about four miles dis- 
tant. The Ahom army continued its advance, via Nadereng, 
to the Kachari capital at Maibong, a distance of nine 
miles, and was allowed to enter the town unopposed. A good 

* The place which I have identi- 8 miles. The distances are only 

fied as Samaguting is called approximate. There was, it is said, 

Samaguri in the Buranjis. The a tank of the " Dijoa Raja" on the 

itinerary is as follows .—from Sala Dijoa hill, measuring 400 yards hy 

to Naga Chauki, 49 miles; on to 300. 

Deopani,18 miles ; to Dilas fort, 11 f To Marnai 7 miles, to Bagmara 

miles ; to Kakajan,13 miles ; to Tim 11 miles, to Gerekani 10 miles, to 

Muri, 7 miles; and to Samaguting, Namira 8 miles. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 167 

deal o£ booty was here taken, including a cannon and 700 
guns. 

Having thus achieved the immediate object of his advance, 
the Bar Barua occupied an entrenched position at Mahur, a 
little to the north of the town, and sent word of his success 
to the Bar Phukan and to the Ahom king. 

In the meantime the Pani Phukan proceeded down the The Pfini 
Kallang to Eaha. As there was no road between this place °j" g k ^ 
and Demera, forty-one miles distant, the army had to cut by- 
its way through dense jungle. This was a most tedious another 
operation, and the rate of progress did not greatly exceed a 
mile a day.* On the way to Demera, Salgaon, Lambur and 
a village of Dharmapur, belonging to a temple of the Goddess 
Kamakhya were sacked. The Kacharis had made prepara- 
tions to repel the invasion, but were deterred on seeing the 
strength of the hostile army. As the Ahoms advanced, the 
inhabitants of the villages along the line of march deserted 
their homes and fled towards Maibong. Demera was occupied 
without opposition. A garrison of 3,000 men was left there, 
and the army then entered the hills and continued its arduous 
march to Nadereng, 23 miles distant, which was reached in 
thirteen days. Here a letter was received from the Bar Barua 
saying that he had already occupied Maibong. The Pani 
Phukan pressed on to join him, and covered the remaining 
distance of seventeen miles in two days. During his march 
he had taken in all 322 prisoners and a small quantity of loot. 

At Maibong the troops suffered greatly from the pestilential Sickness 
climate, and many, including the Bar Barua, fell ill. Provi- at 
sions also began to run short and the vigour with which the 
campaign had been conducted up to this period was succeeded 
by a long spell of inaction. The king, who was now at Raha, 
sent repeated orders to the commanders to press on to Khaspur, 
but they were either unwilling or unable to do so. At last, 
in obedience to very peremptory orders, the Pani Phukan 

* Titelikhara, a distance of 7 Deoduki, 9 miles, in 5 days ; 

miles, was reached in 6 days ; Saralpani, 7 miles, in 5 days ; and 

Jamunafort, 6 miles, in 5 days; Demera, 6 miles, in 5 days. 
Kataha, 7 miles, in 6 days ; 



168 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

marched as far as Sampani. The Bar Barua, who was now 
seriously ill, started to return to Demera, but died during the 
journey. 
Return of About the end of March 1707, the king was at last 
th<3 <v- persuaded to abandon his project of taking Khaspur. He 
tion. recalled the Pani Phukan, who brought back the whole force, 

after demolishing the brick fort at Maibong, burning down 
the houses there, and erecting a pillar, thirteen feet high, 
to commemorate the success of his troops. This pillar 
has long since disappeared. The return journey to Demera, 
along the track which had been cut during the advance, 
occupied only three days. Fortifications were constructed at 
this place, and a strong garrison was left there, but when the 
rainy season set in, the sickness and mortality amongst the 
troops became so serious that the king was obliged to order 
them to be withdrawn. 
The Jain- While these events were in progress, the Kachari king 
tias seize Tamradhvaj had fled to Bikrampur, in the plains portion of 
Kach&ri what is now the district of Cachar, whence he sent an urgent 
kin S» appeal for help to Ram Singh, Raja of Jaintia. The latter 
collected an army, but, before he could march, Tamradhvaj 
sent a second message, reporting that the Ahom forces had 
been withdrawn and saying that he was no longer in need of 
help. Ram Singh was now guilty of an act of gross treachery. 
The Ahoms had dispersed the Kachari troops, and it occurred 
to him that, if he could obtain possession of the person of the 
Kachari king, he would be able also to become master of his 
kingdom. He marched to Mulagul and, under the pretext of a 
friendly meeting at Balesvar, seized Tamradhvaj and carried him 
off to his capital at Jaintiapur, in the plains country north of 
the Surma river, now known as the Jaintia parganas. Several 
members of his family, who were induced to join him there, 
were also placed in close confinement, and the Kachari frontier 
forts at Bandasil and Ichchhamati were attacked and taken, 
who Tamradhvaj managed to send to the Ahom king, by 

the Ahoms * ne nanc ^ s °^ a religious mendicant, a letter saying what 
for help, had happened to him, asking forgiveness for his past 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 169 

offences, and begging for deliverance from the hands of 
his captor. Rudra Singh, who seems to have been delighted* 
alike with the submissive tone of the Kachari king's letter, 
and with the opportunity thus afforded him to display his 
power in a new direction, at once directed the officer in charge 
of the Ahom outpost at Jagi to send word to Ram Singh, 
through his tributary chief of Gobha, demanding the 
immediate release of his captive. 

Ram Singh refused to comply, whereupon Rudra Singh The 
closed the market at Gobha, on which the hill Jaintias were thorns 
largely dependent for their supplies, and commenced collect- the 
ing troops with a view to the invasion of their country as Jfintia 
soon as possible after the close of the rains. A start was 
made at the beginning of December 1707. As in the case 
of the Kachari war, he decided to despatch his troops by 
two different routes. The Bar Barua, with 43,000 men, was to 
march on Jaintiapur, via the Kopili valley and the Kachari 
country, while the Bar Phukan with another force, the 
strength of which is not stated, was to proceed by the direct 
route through Gobha and the Jaintia hills. 

The route taken by the Bar Barua lay through a friendly Advance 
country, and Sampani, the furthest point attained by the jj Bal l 
Kachari expedition of the previous year, was reached without arm y to 
any occurrence worthy of note.* At that place he received a « Jaint i a - 
deputation of prominent Kacharis, who assured him that PUI ' 
nothing was to be feared from the neighbouring Naga tribes. 
He proceeded to Bikrampur,f taking the precaution to send 
messengers ahead to re-assure the people, who, at each 
camping place, came and paid their respects, and were much 
relieved to find that they were not expected to supply pro- 
visions for the army. The Jaintia outposts at Balesvar, 
Dalagaon and Mulagul were easily taken. On reaching the 
last-mentioned place, the Bar Barua again sent messengers to 

* The halting places en route were f The route to Bikrampur was 

Kardaiguri, Kataha, Samaguting. via Hojai fort, Kangji, Meghpur, 

Demera, Gelembu, Jatragarh Hill, Samaguri, Kakani, Aharura, Pani- 

Doyang fort, Doyang ford fort, sara, Aranggaon. 
Baila hill, Mahur hill and Maibong. 



170 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Ram Singh, calling upon him to surrender Tamradhvaj. 
Seeing that resistance was hopeless, he did so, and, at the 
same time, requested the Bar Barua to stay his advance and 
to direct the Bar Phukan, who was also rapidly drawing 
near, to do the same. The Bar Barua replied that unless the 
family and officers of Tamradhvaj were also given up, he 
would continue his march next day. After some hesitation, 
this further demand was also complied with, but the Bar 
Barua nevertheless continued to approach Jaintiapur. 

Ram Singh prepared to resist him, and placed cannon on 
the walls ; but, as the Ahoms approached, he lost heart and, 
after burying his treasures, prepared for flight. His inten- 
tion was discovered by his nobles who, from the beginning, 
had done their utmost to dissuade him from incurring the 
enmity of the Ahoms and, being unwilling that he should 
escape scot-free and leave them to suffer the consequences of 
his folly, they compelled him to make his submission to the 
Bar Barua. He therefore proceeded with an escort of twenty 
elephants towards the A horn camp. On approaching it, he 
was made to dismount and ride on horse-back, unattended, to 
the tent of the Bar Barua, who received him in state. After 
the interview he wanted to return to his capital, but was not 
allowed to do so. News of his capture was sent to the king, 
who directed the Bar Phukan to press on and join the Bar 
Barua at Jaintiapur. 
Route The progress of the Bar Phukan's army may now be 

theB briefly described. Starting from Jagi he marched to Gobha 
Phukan. and conciliated the chief of that place by presents.* At 
Hatibandha, 19 miles from Gobha, the Jaintias made a 
demonstration against some detachments that were engaged 
in clearing the jungle, but retreated when they saw the 
strength of the Ahom army. Eight miles further on, at 

* The full route was : — Gobha 7 13 miles ; Silsako 2 miles; Nar- 

miles ; Aniaseonga hill 9 miles ; tung 5 miles ; Lakimpur 3 miles ; 

Hatibandha 10 miles ; Narottam Chamtang Nartung 2 miles ; Nata- 

hill 7 miles ; Athitbhaga 1 mile ; gari 3 miles ; Pavanai 8 miles ; 

Lachor hill 2 miles; Euritikar 2 Mukutapur 16 miles; Jaintiapur 

miles ; Uarpani 5 miles ; Saralpani Naogaoii 2 miles. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 171 

Athitbhaga, they attacked the Ahoms, but were defeated and 
retreated, carrying their killed and wounded with them. At 
Lachor hill another and more determined onslaught was 
made by a stronger force, which was accompanied by some 
elephants. The Ahoms, taken by surprise, wavered, but rallied 
and eventually drove back their opponents. The victory, 
however, was by no means decisive, and the Jaintias made a 
fresh stand at the Buritikar hill, about two miles away, where 
they occupied some stockades which they had previously 
prepared. The Ahoms, who had exhausted a great part of 
their ammunition, waited for a fresh supply. When this was 
received, they attacked the stockade, on a day chosen by the 
astrologers as auspicious, and drove out the Jaintias, who, 
however, at once occupied three new stockades five miles away, 
on the bank of the Barpani river. They now tried to stop the 
further advance of the Ahoms by promising to give up the 
Kachari king if they would return to Gobha, but the Bar 
Phukan refused to negotiate and at once advanced to the 
attack. The stockades were taken, and from this time there 
was no further active opposition. On reaching Pavanai, the 
Bar Phukan heard of the arrival of the Bar Barua at Jaintia- 
pur and hastened to join him there. 

Rudra Singh directed the two captive kings to be pro- Proposed 
duced before him, Tamradhvaj being taken via Maibong annexa j" 
and Ram Singh across the Jaintia hills. He also ordered the Jaintia 
Jaintia king's garments, jewels, arms, elephants and horses to a J^ , Ka " 
be brought to him, and his treasure to be divided amongst the k ing- 
troops who had taken part in the campaign. The Ahom doms. 
subjects who had fled to Khaspur during Mir Jumlah's 
invasion were to be brought back, and an army of occupation 
under the Bar Barua and the Bar Phukan was directed to 
remain at Jaintiapur. These orders were carried out in 
February 1708. Envoys announcing that the Kachari and 
Jaintia kingdoms had been annexed to the dominions of 
the Ahom Raja were sent to Mati Ullah, the Muhammadan 
Faujdar of Sylhet, who, it is said, made a courteous 
reply. 



172 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Fresh These measures caused the greatest possible irritation 

amojfgst amon g st the Jaintia nobles. They had been quite willing to 

the ( permit the rescue of the Kachari king, but they were not 

amtias. p re p are( j to allow their own ruler to be carried off and their 

independence to be subverted without a far more strenuous 

resistance than they had yet attempted ; and they induced the 

Bar Dalai, the Raja of Khairam, and the inhabitants of two 

hundred independent Khasi villages to join them in a supreme 

effort to expel the invaders. 

They would fain have attempted to rescue their Raja as 
he was being taken to Gobha, but the force escorting him 
was too strong, and they were afraid to risk an encounter. 
Shortly afterwards, however, a simultaneous attack was made 
on the eight forts in which the Bar Phukan had left garrisons 
on his way through the hills. Three of these forts were taken 
unawares and were captured by the Jaintias, who put the 
defenders to death. The other garrisons succeeded in repelling 
the first attack, but, being without a sufficient supply of food 
and ammunition, were soon obliged to retreat. At the same 
time a small detachment, which was taking the copper image of 
the Goddess Jaintesvari to Rudra Singh, was attacked and put 
to flight and the image was rescued. The survivors of this 
detachment, and of the various garrisons, rallied at Nartung, 
and held it for a time, but they eventually beat a retreat 
towards Gobha. On their way they were attacked again. 
The officers did their utmost to preserve order, but in vain. 
The soldiers, seized with panic, broke and fled, hotly pursued 
by the Jaintias. Most of them were put to death, but a few 
escaped to Saralpani whence they, with the garrison of that fort, 
made their way to Sarupani ; here they remained till rescued 
by the troops who had taken the Jaintia Raja to Gobha. 
The Jain- ^ n nearm g °^ the rising, Rudra Singh promptly sent 
tias are up reinforcements, including the detachment of four thousand 
but in* men una ^ er the Burha Gohain which had again been sta- 
the end tioned at Demera. The combined forces attacked the Jaintias 
Y 1 ^ wherever they could find them, but, as the practice of the 

retreat. Jaintias was to disperse when attacked, and then return and 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 173 

harass the Ahom troops on their way back to camp, it was 
found impossible to achieve any decisive victory. They 
destroyed, however, a number of villages round Nartung and 
took many head of cattle. Meanwhile, news of the rising had 
reached the Bar Phukan and Bar Barua at Jaintiapur, and 
they despatched a force to relieve two garrisons in the south 
of the Jaintia hills. This operation was successfully performed, 
but, as the rainy season was now approaching and it was 
thought dangerous to pass it in a hostile country, both these 
officers agreed to retreat at once to Gobha. Before departing, 
a thousand inhabitants of Jaintia were put to the sword, and 
Jaintiapur and all the surrounding villages were destroyed. 
The exasperated Jaintias attacked the Ahoms both at Jain- 
tiapur .and at Mulagul, but were driven off. The troops 
then marched back by the route by which the Bar 
Phukan had advanced and reached Gobha without molesta- 
tion. 

Rudra Singh at first intended to punish the two com- 
manders for the ultimate failure of the expedition, but he 
pardoned them on the intercession of the other nobles. 
In the course of the rising the Ahoms had lost 2,366 men 
killed, including twelve high officers.* On the side of the 
enemy, excluding the massacre at Jaintiapur, very few were 
killed, but seven hundred were made prisoners. In addi- 
tion, about 1,600 persons, chiefly Assamese refugees, were 
brought from Khaspur, and about 600 from Jaintiapur. 
The booty taken in the course of the expedition included 
three cannon, 2,273 guns, 109 elephants, 12,000 pieces of silver 
of the Muhammadan, Ahom, Koch and Jaintia mints, and 
numerous utensils of gold, silver and other metals. Certain 
articles of jewellery, which formed part of the loot, were 
misappropriated by some of the officers employed on the 
expedition, but they were detected and compelled to disgorge. 

•Of the men who were killed 960 pur. These figures throw some 

came from Upper Assam, ],009 light on the sources on which at 

from Gauhati, 280 from the Dhe- this time the Ahoms were able to 

fceri country and 105 from Sona- draw for their soldiers. 



174 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Inter* On the conclusion of the expedition, Rudra Singh removed 

tween n * s cam P ^ rom Bijaypur to Sala, while the Jaintia and Kachari 

Rudra kings were kept in separate camps near Bishnath. In the 

^"^.^ middle of April, Rudra Singh, surrounded by all his chief 

and Jain- nobles, received Tamradhvaj at a grand durbar in a tent sup- 

tia kings. p 0r ted by posts of gold and silver. The captive chief was 

conveyed across the Brahmaputra in the royal barge, and 

on landing, was placed on an elephant carrying a golden 

howdah. When he reached the camp, he descended from the 

elephant, and rode on horseback to the durbar tent, where he 

dismounted and, advancing on foot, prostrated himself and 

knelt down before the king. He was introduced by the Bar 

Barua, who recited the events which had culminated in his 

detention at Bishnath. The king offered him a seat and 

addressed him in a speech which was practically a repetition 

of that already made by the Bar Barua. To this oration 

Tamradhvaj made a submissive reply. He was given formal 

permission to return to his own country and was dismissed 

from the durbar with numerous presents. Before setting out 

he was received at a second durbar. He also paid a visit to 

the temple of Bishnath, in order to worship the idol of Siva 

which it contained. He was given an escort of Ahom troops 

as far as Demera, where he was met by a number of his own 

people from Khaspur. 

A few days later the Jaintia Raja was received in the 
same way, and was told that, if his nobles would appear and 
make their submission, he would be allowed to return to his 
kingdom. The nobles, fearing to appear in person, sent sub- 
missive messages ; but these were not deemed sufficient, and 
they were informed accordingly. Meanwhile Ram Singh 
succumbed to an attack of dysentery. His son, who was also 
a captive, gave two of his sisters in marriage to the Ahom 
king. No further mention is made of him in the Buranjis, 
but it may be presumed that he was released soon afterwards. 
Proposed A few years later Rudra Singh began to make prepara- 

of V Ben"al ^ ons ^ or a ^ resn war against the Muhammadans. His 
motive for doing so is not very clear ; according to some he 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 175 

merely wished to achieve a victory which should shed glory 
on his name, while others aver that his ambition was to 
include a portion of the sacred Ganges within his dominions. 
But whatever his object there is no doubt as to the 
thoroughness of his preparations. He proceeded in person 
to Gauhati and there organized a great army and a numerous 
fleet, and collected all his available cannon. 

But his preparations were in vain. Before they were Rudra 
completed he was seized with a mortal illness and died in ^ in ^ 8 
August 1714. 

The most striking events of his reign, which extended Character 
over seventeen eventful years, were the wars against the a g nera i 
Kachari and Jaintia kings, which have already been described, events of 
But he was by no means a mere military adventurer. Although rel S n * 
illiterate, he was possessed of a most retentive memory and 
of a very unusual intelligence and power of initiative ; and 
he is regarded by many as the greatest of all the Ahom kings. 
The construction of a brick city at Rangpur has already been 
mentioned. He caused masonry bridges to be constructed over 
the Namdang and Dimau rivers. The great tank at Jaisagar, 
and the temple at the same place, were made by him, and 
also the tank and temple at Rangnath, and the Kharikatiya, 
Dubariyam and Meteka roads. He is said to have received 
the submission of all the hill tribes, and to have established 
an extensive trade with Tibet. Abandoning, to some extent, 
the isolating policy of his predecessors, he encouraged 
intercourse with other nations and sent envoys to visit the con- 
temporary rulers of other parts of India.* He studied foreign 
customs and adopted those that he thought good. He 

* The intercourse seems to have expedition to Assam, said: — 

been of a very one-sided character, "However extraordinary it may 

and although he sent envoys to appear to people in Europe, we are 

other kings, he did not apparently under the necessity of admitting 

encourage them to return the com- that, owing to the unremitting 

pliment. In this respect the jealousy which the chiefs of those 

Ahoms appear to have conformed countries have hitherto shown of 

to the Tibetan ideas regarding the English, we know little more 

foreign relations. Lord Corn- of the interior parts of Nepal and 

wallis, in the minute which he Assam than of the interior parts 

wrote prior to Captain Welsh's of China," 



ties 



176 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

imported many artificers from Bengal, and established numerous 
schools for the Brahmans ; he also sent many Brahman boys 
to study at the great centres of learning 1 in Bengal. The 
survey of Sibsagar, which had been commenced under the 
orders of Gadadhar Singh, was finished in this reign. 
Nowgong was also surveyed ; and the settlement which 
followed was supervised by Rudra Singh himself. 
Hindu His Hindu proclivities increased as he grew older, and he 

prochvi- ^ j ag £ deeded formally to embrace that religion and become 
an orthodox Hindu. This involved the ceremony known as 
u taking the Smaran": the neophyte prostrates himself before 
the Guru, who teaches him a secret text, or mantra, and 
takes him under his spiritual protection. Rudra Singh could 
not bear the thought of humbling himself in this way before 
a mere subject, however saintly. He therefore sent to Bengal 
and summoned Krishnaram Bhattacharjya, a famous Mahant 
of the Sakta sect who lived at Malipota, near Santipur in 
the Nadia district. The Mahant was at first unwilling to 
come, but consented on being promised the care of the 
temple of Kamakhya, on the Nilachal hill, just below 
Gauhati. When he arrived the king changed his mind and 
refused to become his disciple, and the priest departed again 
in high dudgeon. At this moment a severe earthquake 
occurred which shattered several temples ; and Rudra Singh, 
interpreting the phenomenon as an indication that the Mahant 
was a real favourite of the Gods, hastened to recall him. He 
still hesitated to take the decisive step, but satisfied the 
Mahant by ordering his sons and the Brahmans of his entour- 
age to accept him as their Guru. It is said by some that, 
when he died, his body was cremated on the Mani Karnesvar 
hill, instead of being buried in a vault at Charaideo according 
to the custom previously in vogue, and that the Rudresvar 
temple, which was subsequently erected by Pramata Singh 
in honour of his memory, stands on the spot where his body 
was burnt. In the Buranjis of the Ahoms themselves, 
however, it is distinctly stated that his remains were burie4 
}ike those of his forefathers. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 177 

He left five sons — by one queen. Sib Singh and Pramata Hia sons. 
Singh, by another Barjana Gohain, by a third Rajesvar Singh, 
and by a fourth Lakshmi Singh. The last mentioned, being 
of a very dark complexion, was by no means a favourite 
with his father. 

When Rudra Singh died, his eldest son Sib Singh, who Sib Singh, 
was with him at Gauhati, at once proceeded to Rangpur H*^ to 
where he ascended the throne. He assumed the Ahom name 
Sutanpha. He gave up the projected invasion of Bengal, but 
obeyed his father's injunction to become a disciple of 
Krishnaram Bhattacharjya. He gave him the management 
of the hill temple of Kamakhya, whence Krishnaram and 
his successors are generally known as the Parbatiya 
Gosains, and assigned to him for its maintenance large 
areas of land in various parts of the country. The 
modern Saktas of Assam are the disciples of these Gosains, 
or of the Nati and Na Gosains, who will be mentioned 
further on. 

In January 1717 an expedition was despatched against the Dafla 
Daflas who had again taken to raiding. After they had been J?^ 
reduced to submission, an embankment was constructed along 
the foot of the hills inhabited by them, as a protection against 
future inroads by these turbulent and restless mountaineers. 
With the exception of this expedition, the country enjoyed 
unbroken peace during this king's reign. 

Sib Singh was completely under the influence of Brah- Growing 
man priests and astrologers ; and in 1722 he was so alarmed f Sakta 
by their prediction that his rule would shortly come to an priests, 
end, that he not only made many and lavish presents for 
the support of temples and of Brahmans, in the hope of 
conciliating the gods and averting the threatened calamity, 
but also endeavoured to satisfy the alleged decree of fate by 
a subterfuge which greatly diminished his prestige in the 
eyes of his people. He declared his chief queen Phulesvari, 
who was also known as Pramatesvari, to be the " Bar Raja" 
or chief king ; made over to her the royal umbrella , the 
Ahom emblem of sovereignty ; and caused coins to be struck 



178 THE CLIMACTERIC OP AHOM RULE. 

jointly in her name and his.* To make matters worse Phules- 
vari's authority was far from nominal. She was even more 
under the influence of the Brahmans than her husband, and, 
in her consuming' zeal for Sakta Hinduism, such as so often 
distinguishes new converts, she committed an act of oppres- 
sion which was destined to have far-reaching- and disastrous 
consequences. Hearing that the Sudra Mahants of the 
Vaishnava persuasion refused to worship Durga, she ordered 
the Moamaria, and several other, Gosains to be brought to a 
Sakta shrine where sacrifices were being offered, and caused 
the distinguishing marks of the Sakta sect to be smeared 
with the blood of the victims upon their foreheads. The 
Moamarias never forgave this insult to their spiritual 
leader, and, half a century later, they broke out in open 
rebellion. 

Phulesvari died in 1731. The king then married her sister 
Deopadi, and made her Bar Raja with the name Ambika. 
She died in 1741, and was succeeded as Bar Raja by another 
wife named Enadari who was renamed Sarbesvari. 
Death of Sib Singh himself died in 1744. He erected numerous 

Further temples and gave away land for the support of Brahmans 
progress an d temples with the reckless prodigality of a new convert, f 
duism." Thanks to his support, Hinduism became the predominant 
religion, and the Ahoms who persisted in holding 1 to their 
old beliefs and tribal customs came to be regarded as a separ- 
ate and degraded class. The Deodhais and Bailongs resisted 
the change with all their might, and succeeded for some time 
longer in enforcing the observance of certain ceremonies, 
such as the worship of the Somdeo. But the people 

* There are coins of this reign inscribed copper-plates recording 

still extant which confirm this grants of land by Ahom kings 

story. Those dated 1715, 1719, which are still in existence refer to 

and 1721 hear Sib Singh's name grants made by this king. The 

alone. Those of 1726 and 1730 others are distributed as follows : 

are in his name and Phnlesvari's ; Gadadhar Singh, 3 ; Rudra Singh, 

those of 1732, 1733, and 1734 in 3; Pramafca Singh, 3; Kajesvar 

his name and Ambika Debi's ; and Singh, 7; Lakshmi Singh, 6 ; 

those of 1741 and 1744 in his Gaurinath Singh, 4 ; Kamalesvar 

name and Sarbesvari's. Singh, 2; and Chandrakanta 

f Nineteen out of the forty-eight Singh, 1. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 179 

gradually fell away from them, took Hindu priests, and aban- 
doned the free use of meat and strong drinks. The change 
was a disastrous one. Not only did the Ahoms thereby lose 
their pride of race and martial spirit, but, with a less nourish- 
ing diet, their physique also underwent a change for the 
worse. The process of deterioration has gone on steadily, 
and no one, looking at an average Ahom of the present day, 
would suspect him of being the descendant of a race of 
conquerors who, though small in number, gradually extended 
their rule over the whole of the Brahmaputra valley, and 
successfully resisted the assaults of the Mughals, even when 
the latter were at the zenith of their power. 

During this reign the chief public works were the Dhaj 
Ali, and the tanks and temples at Gaurisagar, Sibsagar, and 
Kalugaon. Surveys were effected in Kamrup and Bakata. 
The register, or Pera Kagaz, based on this survey of Kamrup, 
was still extant at the time of the British conquest. It con- 
tained a list of all occupied lands, except homestead, with their 
areas, and particulars of all rent-free estates. 

It is recorded that in 1739 four Europeans, whose names Visit of 
appear to have been Bill, Godwin, Lister, and Mill, visited ^ nv 
Sib Singh at Rangpur. The king met them at the princi- p ea ns. 
pal gate of the city where, it is said, they did him homage 
by falling prostrate at his feet. 

On the death of Sib Singh the nobles passed over his Pramata 
sons, and raised Rudra Singh's second son, Pramata Singh, to s ^ n S h > 
the throne. He assumed the Ahom name Sunenpha and was 1751, 
formally installed by the Deodhais. Soon afterwards, a 
conspiracy was detected and the culprits were punished by 
mutilation and stripes. 

In 1745 a fresh survey waff made, and a census was taken 
in the same year. New buildings and masonry gateways 
were constructed at Garhgaon, and the Rangghar, or amphi- 
theatre for animal fights, was built at Rangpur. The 
Rudresvar and Sukresvar temples were erected at Gauhati. 
Pramata Singh died in 1751 after an uneventful reign of 
seven years. 

»2 



180 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 



Rajesvar 
Singh, 
1751 to 

1769. 



The Bar 
Barua's 
ascend- 
ancy. 



Dafla 
raid. 



Rudra Singh's third son, Barjana Gohain, was considered 
ineligible, as he was pitted with small-pox, and he was passed 
over in favour of the fourth son, Rajesvar Singh alias Su- 
rampha, who was installed with the usual ceremonies. His 
first act was to exile Barjana Gohain to Namrup. There was 
a conflict of opinion between the Ahom and Hindu astrolo- 
gers as to the place where the new king ought to reside. 
The former recommended Taimung, and the latter, Rangpur. 
The king listened to the advice of the Hindu astrologers, 
and built his palace at Rangpur ; but he afterwards erected a 
second residence at Taimung. Both buildings were of brick 
and of considerable size. 

This king, though an able man, preferred pleasure to the 
affairs of state, and left the government in the hands of his 
Bar Barua, Kirti Chandra Gendhela. The latter was of an 
overbearing disposition and soon incurred the dislike of the 
other nobles. The Numali Bar Gohain wrote a Buranji, 
in which he made certain aspersions regarding the purity of 
his descent. The Bar Barua disproved the allegations and, 
on the plea that the publication of such falsehoods might 
cause much harm in future, and that, if it were allowed, the 
origin of the king himself might be impugned, obtained 
the assent of the king to a detailed examination of all the 
Buranjis in existence at that time. Those which contained 
anything that was considered objectionable were burnt. 
These proceedings added to the Bar Barua's unpopularity and 
a plot was formed to assassinate him. He was attacked as 
he was entering the palace, but escaped with a few wounds. 
The conspirators were all caught. Two of the ringleaders 
were impaled and one was fried to death in oil. The others 
were deprived of their noses and ears. 

In 1758 the Daflas, who had never yet been properly 
subdued, committed several raids near Ghiladhari. As a 
punishment, forts were erected along the frontier, and the 
Daflas were prohibited from entering the plains. The 
blockade had the desired effect. A deputation came down 
from the hills, and gave up the captives and brought presents 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 181 

for Rajesvar Singh. The king, however, was not satisfied, 
and caused members of the deputation to be arrested. Their 
relatives retaliated by seizing thirty -five Assamese and two 
cannon. This led to an exchange of captives, and an agree- 
ment was made whereby the Daflas were permitted to levy 
yearly from each family in the Duars, or submontane tract 
along the foot of the hills, a pura of paddy and three hundred 
and twenty cowries, on condition of their refraining from 
other acts of aggression. 

In July 1765, it was found necessary to undertake puni- Mikir ex 
tive operations against the Mikirs, and two forces were sent pedlt,on ' 
against them. The one entered the hills at the back of 
Chapanala, while the other ascended the Kopili and Jamuna 
rivers to take the offending villages in the rear. The result was 
most satisfactory. The two forces, having effected a junction 
in the hills, defeated the Mikirs and burnt down their houses 
and granaries. The Mikirs then came in with tribute, and 
begged for forgiveness. 

In the following November, Rajesvar Singh sent messen- Visit 
gers to summon to his presence the Kachari king, Sandhi- |l om . . 
kari, but the latter refused to receive them. The Bar Barua Eaja. 
thereupon proceeded with an army to Raha. This had the 
desired effect, and the Kachari monarch came in and made his 
submission. He was accompanied by Raja Jai Singh of 
Manipur, who had taken shelter with him, owing to the inva- 
sion of his country by the Burmese. Both rulers were taken 
before Rajesvar Singh, who, after admonishing the Kachari 
Raja, allowed him to return to his country.* 

Jai Singh made an urgent appeal to Rajesvar Singh Expedi- 

for help, and the latter, after consulting his nobles, agreed to ^Jj| J| 

send an army to Manipur to reinstate him. A force was Burmese 

from 
Manipur. 
* This is the usual version, but who reported that the Tipperas had 
in the Buranji in which the inci- invaded the country and that 
dent is most fully dealt with, it is Rama had fled to Manipur, while 
stated that the expedition was un- he himself had taken refuge at 
dertiken in consequence of an Maibong. There is, however, no 
appeal for help from Sandhikari, mention of any conflict with the 
uncle of Kama the Kachari king, Tipperas. 



182 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

collected, but several officers in succession refused to accept 
the command on the plea of ill-health. These were dismissed 
and deprived of all their property. At last a commander was 
found and the army started. It was proposed to march 
direct through the hills south of Charaideo, but the jungle 
was so dense that the work of clearing a road was most 
laborious and progress was very slow. The troops suffered 
great hardships and many died from the effects of exposure 
and insufficient food ; many also were killed by the Nagas, 
and some died of snake-bite. The state of things was 
reported to the king who ordered the troops to return. 

In November 1768 a second force was despatched by 
way of Raha, and the Kachari country. The main body 
halted at Raha, and a force of ten thousand men accom- 
panied Jai Singh as far as the Mirap river, where it remained 
until Jai Singh raised a force of Nagas and drove out the 
usurper Kelemba, who had been placed on the Manipur 
throne by the Burmese.* He subsequently sent valuable 
presents to Rajesvar Singh and gave him a daughter in 
marriage. A number of Manipuris who accompanied her 
were settled near the mouth of the Desoi at Magaluhat, or 
u the Manipuri market." 
Threaten- In 1769 the Jaintia Raja moved towards the Ahom 
ed rup- frontier with a body of troops. The king proposed to call 
Jaintia. on him to appear and explain his movements. The majority 
of the nobles suggested that nothing should be done until it 
became clear that he had hostile intentions, but they were 
overruled by the Bar Barua, who marched to Raha with 
a force of all arms. The Jaintia Raja was alarmed and with- 
drew. 
Rajesvar Soon afterwards the king became seriously ill and died 

death' 8 a ^ er an iUness lastin g twent y da 7 s - Though indolent, he 
character was a capable prince. During his reign the people enjoyed 
and gene- internal or( j er an d immunity from external aggression. 

events of t ^^ . g ^ story to ^ ^y Dr. chronicles of the Ahoms the nsnr- 
nis reign. - Brown - n hig statistical Account per's name was Bairang and he was 
of Manipur, According to the put to death. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 183 

They had now become very prosperous, but there were 
already signs of the approaching decay. The warlike 
spirit which animated their ancestors had almost wholly 
evaporated, and, for the first time, we find high officers 
refusing to go on active service. The people were already 
priestridden, and sectarian disputes had begun to strangle 
their patriotic aspirations. The Moamaria Gosain was brood- 
ing over his wrongs, and was secretly spreading disaffection 
amongst his disciples. 

The king himself was a strict Hindu. He erected many 
temples and gave much land to the Brahmans. Soon after 
his accession he paid a long visit to Gauhati to worship at the 
various temples there. He took the smaran from a relative of 
the Parbatiya Gosain, known as the Nati Gosain, and gave 
him a temple at Pandunath. He was a great patron of 
learned men. 

There was a difference of opinion among the nobles as Lakshmi 
to the proper successor to the throne. One party, headed ® ™ Q % "j 
by Kirti Chandra Bar Barua, who had hurried back from 1780. 
Raha as soon as he heard of Rajesvar Singh's illness, was in 
favour of appointing the Namrup Raja, Lakshmi Singh, 
the youngest son of Rudra Singh, and alleged that, 
on his death-bed, Rudra Singh had expressed a wish 
that all his sons should succeed to the throne in turn. The 
Bar Gohain and others denied this, and supported the 
claim of Rajesvar's eldest son ; they revived an old scandal 
that threw doubts on Lakshmi Singh's legitimacy, and 
pointed out that he had been born in his putative father's 
old age, and was so entirely different from him in colour and 
feature that Rudra Singh himself had doubted if he were 
really his son. In the end Lakshmi Singh was selected. 
He took the Ahom name Sunyeopha. It is said that the 
Parbatiya Gosain refused to recognize him on the score of 
his alleged illegitimacy, and that he imported from Bengal 
a new priest, also a Sakta, who was the first of the Na 
Gosains. 

Rajesvar's remains were cremated on the bank of the 



184 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

Brahmaputra and the ashes were interred at Charaideo. His 
two sons, the Rajas of Tipam and Sariug, were banished with 
their families to Namrup. 

Lakshmi Singh was already fifty-three years of age 
when he became king. He left the management of his 
affairs in the hands of the Bar Barua, who had been 
instrumental in raising him to the throne, and who thus 
became more arrogant than ever. One day, when he was 
travelling with the king in the royal barge, the Moamaria 
Gosain happened to be standing on the bank. He saluted 
the king, but failed to take any notice of the Bar Barua, 
who was infuriated at the imagined slight and heaped on 
him all manner of insulting epithets. The Mahanta was 
greatly incensed and his disaffection became more pronounced 
than before. Soon afterwards, the chief of the Moran tribe,* 
named Nahar, when bringing elephants for the king, incurred 
the Bar Barua' s wrath by going direct to the palace instead 
of first paying his respects to him. The haughty official 
caused him to be seized and beaten, and ordered his ears to 
be cut off. The unfortunate man, who happened to be a 
disciple of the Moamaria Gosain, hastened to him and 
invoked his aid. 
my * > The Gosain who was perhaps only too glad to have some 

Moama- ostensible motive, other than his own personal wrongs, at 
ria rebel- once resolved on rebellion. He collected his disciples and 
appointing his son Bangan to lead them, entered Namrup. 
He was received with great enthusiasm by the inhabitants, 
chiefly Morans and Kacharis, all of whom became his 
disciples. His son Bangan assumed the title of Raja of 
Namrup. The king's elder brother, Barjana Gohain, was 
induced to join the rebels, who promised to place him on the 

• The terms Moran, Matak and found the people of this tract 

Moamaria are often confused, but better able to defend themselves 

they are in reality quite distinct, than those residing under the 

Moran is the name of a tribe, and decayed power of the Ahoras, and 

Moamaria that of a sect, while so called them Matak, strong, as 

Matak refers to the country once distinguished from the Mullong, or 

ruled by the Bar Senapati. When weak, subjects of the Ahoms. The 

the Singphos began to raid, they Bar Senapati was a Chutiya by tribe. 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 185 

throne, and many other banished princes followed his 
example. When news of the rising reached the king, 
he sent men to seize Bangan, but they were themselves taken 
and put to death. The insurgents then advanced to Tipam. 

The first fight with the king's troops who were sent to 
oppose them took place on the banks of the Dibru river. The 
Moamarias were driven back. They renewed the attack, 
but were unable to capture the entrenchments which the 
royalists had thrown up. Then they also entrenched 
themselves, and for several months little progress was made 
on either side. 

In October 1769, a Moran named Ragha, who styled 
himself Bar Barua, led an insurgent force down the north 
bank of the Brahmaputra and defeated the royalist troops in 
several engagements. The king was greatly alarmed, and 
summoned a council of his nobles to decide what should be 
done. The Burha Gohain proposed that messengers should 
be sent to make terms with Ragha, but he was over-ruled by 
the Bar Barua and other nobles, who said that such a course 
would be too humiliating, and counselled flight to Gauhati. 
The king determined to follow their advice, and at once left 
Rangpur. Many of his officers deserted him at the outset, 
and others left him when he reached Sonarinagar. Ragha, 
who was already on his way to Rangpur, arrived there too 
late to prevent the king's departure. He at once sent men in 
pursuit ; they came up with him at Sonarinagar, and he was 
brought back and confined in the temple of Jaysagar. A 
number of his nobles were arrested at the same time. A few 
of them were put to death, but the majority were merely kept 
in confinement. 

Hearing the news > the Bar j ana Gohain hastened towards 
the capital, in the hope of being raised to the throne, accord- 
ing to the promise previously made to him. He was, 
however, arrested under Ragha's orders and put to death. 
Kirti Chandra, the deposed Bar Barua, was also put to death. 
His sons shared his fate, and his wives and daughters were 
distributed amongst the Moamaria leaders. Lakshmi Singh 



186 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

remained in captivity ; and it is related that, when Ragha 

paid him a visit, his demeanour was so cringing and abject 

that Ragha thought he had nothing to fear from him. 

Rama- Bangan was now hailed as king by Ragha, but his 

is^made ^her, ^ ne Moamaria Gosain, forbade him to accept the offer, 

king by and caused Ramakant, a son of the Moran chief Nahar, to 

the rebels. ^ ra j sec [ to the throne. Two other sons of Nahar were 

appointed Rajas of Tipam and Saring, while the other 

leaders of the insurgents were rewarded with the various 

high offices of state, and took possession of the houses 

belonging to the persons whom they thus supplanted. 

Ragha himself retained the post of Bar Barua, which he 
had already assumed, and took into his harem the wives of 
the deposed king and the widows of his predecessor Rajesvar, 
including the Manipuri princess who had been the wife of 
both brothers in turn. Coins were minted in Ramakant's 
name, dated 1691 Sak (1769 A.D.), but the real power vested 
in Ragha, who disposed of all important public business. 
All the Gosains of Upper Assam were compelled to acknow- 
ledge the spiritual supremacy of the Moamaria high priest, 
and large sums of money were extorted from them on various 
pretexts. 

For several months the new regime met with no overt 
opposition but, in the interior, the people still looked to the 
dismissed officers of Lakshmi Singh as their real rulers. 
This gave great displeasure to Ramakant, and, after taking 
council with his followers, he resolved to seize and put all the 
old officers to death. The execution of the king was also 
decided on. 
Success- News of this sanguinary decision reached the ears of the 

counter- ro y a ^ s ^ leaders, who met together and determined, before it 
revolu- was too late, to make a last effort to overthrow the usurpers 
and restore the old administration. Their plans were facili- 
tated by the fact that the great majority of the insurgents 
had dispersed to their homes, and that Ramakant and his 
satellites had thus only a comparatively small number of 
supporters present in the capital. In April, 1770, on the 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 187 

night before the Bihu festival, Ragha's house was surrounded, 
and he was dragged out and put to death. According to 
some, the first blow was struck from behind by the Manipuri 
princess. Ramakant escaped for a time, but his father and 
other relatives, and many of his officers, were caught and 
put to death. 

Lakshmi Singh was now brought back in triumph, and a 
vigorous persecution of the Moamarias was set on foot. 
Their Gosain was taken, tortured and impaled, and Rama- 
kant and many of his followers shared the same fate. The 
rest fled to Namrup, where most of them were captured and 
killed. 

These severities soon led to a fresh rising, in which the Fresh 
Chungis of Namrup were the ringleaders. An expedition Oppress- 
was despatched against them, but met with scant success, ed. 
Reinforcements were hurried up, but the Moamarias gradually 
forced their way forward. They were defeated by some 
mounted Manipuri mercenaries on the bank of the Desang, 
but soon rallied. They were defeated again and took shelter 
in a forest, but their resistance was still not broken. They 
constructed a fort in a remote part of the forest and, with this 
as a refuge and rallying point, they continued to give trouble 
for some time. Then, for a few years, no mention is made 
of them, and they were apparently satisfied to be left alone 
until a favourable opportunity should occur for renewing the 
struggle. 

Owing to the Moamaria rising, it had hitherto been Install a- 
found impossible formally to instal Lakshmi Singh but, as * 10 ? ? f . 
soon as quiet was restored, the usual ceremony was performed Singh, 
on a grand scale. 

But even now he was not destined to resign in peace. More 
One conspiracy was detected, and then another ; in both cases a J fcem Pt 8 
the conspirators were put to death. The Kalita Phukan was lion, 
dismissed in December, 1774, either in consequence of com- 
plaints of his exactions made by the people of Narayanpur or, 
as some say, at the instance of the chief nobles, who suspected 
him of speaking evil of them to the king. He thereupon 



188 THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 

proceeded to Tamulbari on the north bank of the Lohit, and 
proclaimed himself king, assuming the name Mirhang. He 
collected a force and erected a fort at Kechamati, but, when 
an army was sent against him, his men deserted him, and 
he was obliged to seek safety in flight. He was caught at 
Dhekerijuri, but bribed his captors and escaped. He sought 
an asylum with the Daflas, but they refused to shelter him, 
and he was eventually recaptured and executed. 

In 1779, a Nara of Khamjang, who had fled from his own 
country and had been given land near Sadiya, raised a body of 
Chutiyas and Mishmis and headed a local rebellion. He killed 
the Sadiya Khowa Gohain, but beat a precipitate retreat on 
the approach of reinforcements from Rangpur. His followers 
took refuge in a forest, but they were hunted down, and many 
of them were caught and punished. 
Lakshmi Lakshmi Singh's health had for some time been failing:, 

Singh s & . 

death. and he suffered from chronic dysentery. He made his eldest 

son Jubraj and died in December 1780 in the 67th year of 

his age. 

He was never a strong prince, and his nerves were com- 

cellaneoua pletely shattered by the Moamaria rising. After his restora- 

events ^j on ^q D eo dhais endeavoured to regain their former influence 
of reign. . . ° 

by ascribing the misfortunes into which the country had 

fallen to the adoption of Hindu beliefs and practices and the 
abandonment of the old tribal observances of their fore- 
fathers. They pointed out that many projects had miscarried, 
owing to their having been commenced on days selected by 
the Ganaks as auspicious, whereas, according to the calcu- 
lations of the Ahom astrologers, they were the very reverse. 
They laid special stress on the fact that Rajesvar's body 
had been cremated, instead of being buried as those of his 
ancestors had been. To undo the mischief, they made an 
effigy of him in clay and, having performed with it the 
Rikkhvan ceremony for the restoration of life, and offered 
sacrifices to the gods, they buried it with the rites usually 
observed at the interment of an Ahom king. For some time 
after this, Lakshmi Singh seems to have been favourably 



THE CLIMACTERIC OF AHOM RULE. 189 

disposed towards the Deodhais, and their prognostications 
were again attended to. The Hindus, however, soon regained 
their influence, and it is recorded that, at the suggestion of 
the Na Gosain, the Goddess Tara was worshipped with great 
ceremony, and an immense amount of money was distributed 
to the Brahmans. The Deodhais refused to take any part in 
these proceedings. 

Several Hindu temples were erected and the great Rudra 
Sagar tank was excavated under the orders of this king. 



190 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM, 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 
Qauriuath The nobles placed the Jubraj Gaurinath Singh on the 
lTRfH vacant throne, and he was installed as king with the usual 
1795. ceremonies. He assumed the Ahom name Suhitpangpha. 
He ordered his father's body to be cremated and the ashes to 
be intombed at Charaideo, after a funeral ceremony performed 
according to Hindu rites. He caused the other princes of 
the blood to be mutilated, in order to render them ineligible 
for the succession. He chose the Bar Barua as his chief 
adviser. The latter set himself to poison the king's mind 
against the Bar Gohain, with whom he was on bad terms ; he 
accused him of having been opposed to Gaurinath's elevation 
to the throne and, on this charge, which seems to have been 
wholly unsubstantiated, the unfortunate man and several of 
his near relatives were beheaded. But the Bar Barua's triumph 
was of very short duration. He gave great offence to the 
king by disposing of important matters without consulting 
him, and was dismissed from his office and deprived of all his 
possessions. 

Gaurinath chose as his religious preceptor a son of Rama- 
nanda Acharjya and underwent the ceremony of initiation 
as his disciple. 
The He was a bitter enemy of the Moam arias and lost no 

a ."_ opportunity of oppressing them. At last they were goaded 
again into a fresh rebellion. One night, in April, 1782, when the 
rebel. ki n g wa s returning to Garhgaon at a late hour after a fish- 
ing expedition, a band of them attached themselves to his 
party, disguised as torch bearers, and after, thus gaining 
admittance to the town, attacked and killed several of the 
king's attendants. Gaurinath himself managed to escape 
to his palace on an elephant. The insurgents proceeded to set 
fire to the town, but were frustrated by the Burha Gohain, 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 191 

who hurried up with a party of soldiers and, after a sharp 
struggle, drove them away. They next marched to Rangpur 
and, failing to obtain an entry by stratagem, broke down 
the gates and paraded the streets, killing all whom they met 
and setting the houses on fire. The local officials fled, but 
the Burha Gohain, who had followed them from Garhgaon, 
soon succeeded in dispersing them. 

This energetic and capable officer, of whom more will be 
heard later on, seeing that harsh methods frustrated their own 
ends, now urged the king to win over the malcontents by 
mild and conciliatory treatment, and, if his advice had been 
followed, it seems likely that the Moamarias would have given 
no further trouble. But it was not. The new Bar Barua 
taking the opposite view, advocated their wholesale extermina- 
tion ; and this course commended itself to the cruel and vin- 
dictive nature of the king. A general massacre of the 
Moamarias was proclaimed ; many thousands, including women 
and children, were put to death, and four sons of the deposed 
Bar Barua, who were found to have been cognizant of the 
rising, were deprived of their eyesight. These atrocities 
served only to fan the flames of disaffection, and conspiracy 
succeeded conspiracy. The first was hatched at Jaysagar by 
a Mahanta belonging to the Jakahlabandha Gosain's family. 
He was caught and blinded, and three of his followers were 
fried to death in oil. The Morans in the extreme east next 
broke out in rebellion, under a man named Badal Gaonburha, 
but they were dispersed without much trouble. 

This abortive rising was followed, early in 1786, by a more 
serious revolt of the Moamarias on the north bank of the 
Lohit. An expedition which was despatched to quell it was 
cut up, and many other malcontents then flocked to the rebel 
camp. Fresh troops were sent, but they too were defeated in 
an engagement near the Garaimari bil. The chiefs of Rani, 
Luki and Beltola were now asked for help, and sent up a 
force, which was at once despatched to Pahumara in the 
Majuli. The Moamarias responded by crossing the Lohit at 
Goramur and attacking the Goramur sattra, which was 



192 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Gauri- 
nath 
flies to 
Gauhati. 



taken after a feeble resistance by the Gosain's disciples. 
They then marched against the Gauhati levies and put them 
to flight with heavy loss. The remnant of the royalist army 
on the north bank, on hearing of these disasters, recrossed the 
Lohit and the Dihing* and joined the Burha Gohain, who 
was in command of another force, and had entrenched himself 
at Sonari. He was in his turn attacked and defeated, and 
retreated, first to Gaurisagar and then to Rangpur, where 
he rejoined the king. He was closely followed by the 
Moamarias, who laid waste the country and burnt the villages 
along their line of march. They made their head-quarters 
at Bhatiapar, and defeated in turn several forces sent against 
them. They were, however, foiled in an attempt to take 
Rangpur and fell back to the Majuli. Gaurinath now sent 
urgent appeals for help to the Bar Phukan at Gauhati, and 
also to the Manipuri, Kachari and Jaintia kings, but mean- 
while the Moamarias again advanced, along the bank of the 
Jhanzi river, and, bearing down all resistance, appeared before 
the gates of Rangpur. 

The king fled panic stricken to Gauhati, accompanied by 
most of his officers. The Burha Gohain Purnanand, with the 
Bar Barua and a few others, courageously remained behind and 
endeavoured to stem the tide of rebellion. On reaching Gauhati 
Gaurinath Singh found the Bar Phukan preparing to start to 
his assistance. He held a council, and despatched thirteen 
thousand men under the Pani Phukan to reinforce the Burha 
Gohain, but, before they arrived, the Moamarias had again 



* By the Dihing, the present 
course of the Brahmaputra south 
of the Majuli is meant, but the 
use of this name by no means 
proves that the main channel of 
the Lohit, or Brahmaputra, still 
flowed to the north of the Majuli 
at the period iu question. The 
Assamese, like other Indian races, 
are very conservative in the matter 
of names, and the southern channel 
river was still called the Dihing 
when the map in Wilson's 



Narrative of the Burmese War 
(London, 1852) was prepared. 
According to common tradition 
in Assam, the change in the course 
of the Brahmaputia was caused by 
a flood brought down by the Dibong 
river in 1735, or more than half a 
century earlier. The northern 
channel, however, must still have 
carried a considerable volume of 
water, as we read that on one occa- 
sion Lakshmi Singh was prevented 
by a storm from crossing it. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 193 

defeated the royalists and taken possession of Garhgaon. 
They burnt down the palace and destroyed many of the 
neighbouring villages j and the common people, finding them- 
selves undefended, began to throw in their lot with the rebels. 

The Burha Gohain had retreated as far as the Kaziranga BurhA 
river when he met the Pani Phukan with the reinforcements co °^ues 
from Gauhati. He then assumed the offensive and inflicted to resist 
several minor defeats on the rebels. But soon afterwards, a J^ ma " 
force under the Pani Phukan was cut up in a night attack, 
and another force, under the Dhekial Phukan, was so demoral- 
ized that it dispersed in confusion on the approach of the 
fugitives, whom it mistook for Moamarias. The Burha 
Gohain with great difficulty rallied his men, but he could no 
longer hope to do more than prevent a further advance on the 
part of the rebels. "With this object, he constructed a line of 
forts along the Namdang stream, from the Bar Ali to the 
Khari Katia Ali, which he succeeded in holding until March 
1788, when a son of Raja Rajesvar Singh, known as 
the Patkuar, collected a force, an^, after defeating several 
detachments of the insurgents, joined hands with him. Mean- 
while the Moamarias, who were suffering from want of sup- 
plies, relaxed their efforts, and the Patkuar, deeming the time 
opportune for a fresh advance, moved forward and occupied 
Sibsagar. Hi9 success was short-lived, and soon afterwards 
he was ambushed, taken prisoner and put to death. 

The Burha Gohain, undaunted by this fresh disaster, 
continued to hold his position on the Namdang ; and in Febru- 
ary, 1789, with the aid of further reinforcements from 
Gauhati, he was able on.ee more to advance against the rebels. 
For some time he was successful, but in the end he was driven 
back on Gaurisagar, where he was closely invested. Pro- 
visions ran so short that his troops were fain to eat the flesh 
of horses and elephants. Many died of starvation and dysen- 
tery, and his forces were so depleted by the direct and indirect 
losses of the campaign that he was at last obliged to retreat, 
first to Taratali and then to the Disai. Here he erected a 
fort and placed it under the command of Japara Gohain. He 



194 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

then proceeded to Rajanikhat, west of Kacharihat. Japara 
was no sooner left to himself than he declared himself 
independent, but, being unwary enough to be enticed into the 
power of the Burha Gohain, he was made prisoner and his 
eyes were put out. 

After halting for some time at Sungighat and Charaibahi, 
the Burha Gohain, in April 1790, constructed a fortified 
position at Jorhat. He placed an outpost at Meleng, but it 
was soon afterwards destroyed by the Moamarias. Gaurinath 
now sent up four hundred Bengal mercenaries and, with their 
aid, the Burha Gohain made a fort at Teok. On the advent 
of the rainy season, however, he again fell back behind the 
Disai river. The Moamarias captured an advanced position 
on the Kokila river, but they were repulsed with heavy loss 
in a subsequent attack on a fort near the Bar Ali, on the 
right bank of the Disai. This reverse appears to have dis- 
heartened them; and for some time they abstained from 
regular fighting, and resorted to guerilla tactics. They 
harassed the inhabitants of the tract held by the Burha 
Gohain by constant raids, especially at night, when small 
bodies would pass up the Dhansiri and Kakakan streams, 
plunder some village on the banks, and disappear again 
before they could be intercepted. 
Suffer- The people gradually lost heart and would gladly have 

ings ot accepted the Moamaria supremacy, but for the untiring efforts 
people. of the Burha Gohain, who alternately coaxed them by presents 
of food and clothing and coerced them by inflicting severe 
punishment on those who disobeyed his orders. But if their 
sufferings were great, their condition was still far better than 
that of the people living in the country held by the Moamarias ; 
where the burning of villages, the looting of supplies and the 
wanton destruction of crops led to a terrible famine : rice was 
not obtainable, and the sufferings of the people were so great 
that many abandoned their own children. Even persons of the 
highest castes, it is said, were reduced to eating the flesh of 
cows, buffaloes, dogs and jackals. Some roamed about in the 
jungle, devouring wild fruits and roots, while others fled to 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 195 

the Burha Gohain or to the neighbouring hill tribes, and 
even to Bengal. 

During these operations a number of soi-clisant Rajas had Numerous 
appeared in various parts of the country. On the north bank ^ J 8 
of the Lohit, at Japaribhita, a man of the weaver caste was appear, 
set up by the Moamarias ; in the Majuli, a man named Haulia 
exercised supreme power ; east of the Dihing, at Bengmarrb 
the Morans acknowledged one Sarbanand as their ruler ; while 
at Sadiya the Khamtis appeared on the scene with a Raja and 
Dcka Raja of their own. The main body of the Moamarias 
at Rangpur placed Bharat Singh on the throne and appointed 
one Sukura as his Bar Barua. Bharat Singh opened a mint ; 
and coins bearing his name, and dated 1793, are still extant. 

It has been mentioned that Gaurinath sent an appeal Ineffec- 
f or help to the kings of the neighbouring states. The ve ntion of 
Kachari and Jaintia Rajas were only too glad to hear that R a 3 a . °f 
their once dreaded neighbour was in difficulties, and abso- amp 
lutely refused to give him any assistance. But the Manipurj 
Raja was mindful of the services rendered him a few years 
previously by GaurinatVs uncle, Rajesvar, and marched with 
five hundred horse and four thousand foot to Nowgong* 
where he was met by Gaurinath. He then proceeded up- 
country to assist the Burha Gohain. The latter proposed 
that he should make an attack on Rangpur. He agreed, 
and advanced to Gaurisagar with his own troops and a 
detachment of the Burha Gohain's force. Next day he 
moved on towards Rangpur, but, when he approached the 
Moamaria lines, the latter at once gave battle and, after a 
short engagement, put his troops to flight. Many were 
killed during the fight and more in the pursuit that followed ; 
and the martial ardour of the Raja was so effectually quenched 
that he lost no time in hastening back to Manipur. He 
left a thousand of his men with the Burha Gohain, but they 
proved quite useless, and deserted in a body on the approach 
of the Moamarias. 

The Burba Gohain, however, still managed to hold his 
own ; and in 1792, after repulsing an attack made by the 

o2 



196 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Moamarias on his position along the Disai river, advanced 

his line of defence to the Ladaigarh. 

Insurrec- After his interview with the Manipur Raja, Gaurinath 

tions in stayed for some time in Nowgong. His numerous followers 

Assam, irritated the villagers by their constant demands for supplies 

and other acts of oppression, and the discontent thus caused at 

last found vent in open revolt. The leader of the rebels 

was a man named Sinduri Hajarika. An attack was made on 

the king who fled precipitately up the Kallang river. He 

took shelter for a short time in the Sat Iras of the Auniati 

and Dakhinpat Gosains, and then went downstream to 

Gauhati. Here fresh troubles awaited him. 

Some time previously he had treacherously seized and 
put to death Hangsa Narayan, the tributary Raja of 
Darrang, on an unproved charge of sedition, and set up in 
his place another member of the family named Bishnu 
Narayan, thereby ignoring the claims of Krishna Narayan, 
the son of the late chief. The latter, stung by the injustice, 
went to Mr. Douglas, the Commissioner of Koch Bihar, and, 
through him, sought the aid of the British. He offered, 
if reinstated, to hold his estate as their vassal, in the same 
way as his ancestors had done under the Mughals, into whose 
possessions the British had now entered. Failing in his 
appeal, he determined to act for himself. He collected a 
force of Hindustanis and Bengalis, drove out Gaurinath's 
nominee and proclaimed himself Raja of Darrang. Finding 
that there was no one to oppose him, he proceeded to annex 
the northern part of Kamrup and even took possession of 
North Gauhati. 
Ganrinath Gaurinath now appealed for help to Mr. Lumsden, the 
appeals to Collector of Rangpur. A merchant named Raush, the 
British ^ armer °f the salt revenue at Goalpara, who is said by some 
to have recruited mercenaries in Bengal for the Burha Gohain, 
also wrote in his behalf. The matter was referred to Lord 
Cornwallis, the Governor General, who held that, as the 
trouble appeared to have been caused by gangs of marauders 
from British territory, it was incumbent on the Government 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 197 

to take such steps as might be necessary to restore order. 
A message was sent to the leaders of these gangs, direct- 
ing them to return to British territory. They refused to 
do so, and it was, therefore, decided to expel them by 
force. 

Accordingly, in September, 1792, six companies of sixty Captain 
sepoys each were sent to Goalpara under the command of ir ,S 
Captain Welsh, with Lieutenant Macgregor as adjutant, and help him. 
Ensign Wood as surveyor. The commandant's orders were 
to proceed to the town of Goalpara and, after making care- 
ful local enquiries, to submit a full report to the Governor 
General, on receipt of which, he was told, detailed instruc- 
tions would be given him. The modern district of Goalpara 
had become a British possession in 1765, when the whole 
of the Muhammadan possessions in Bengal were ceded to 
the East India Company. At the time of these events, 
it formed part of the district of Rangpur. The town from 
which it derives its name was the great emporium of trade 
with Assam. There was a military outpost at Jogighopa 
on the opposite bank, but there was no resident civil officer, 
and the place was but seldom visited by the Rangpur 
officials. The only European inhabitant was Mr. Raush, 
who had been there since 176S. Captain Welsh reached 
Goalpara on the 8th November 1792. He obtained from 
Mr. Raush a long account of the troubles that beset the A horn 
king, and further details were supplied by Bishnu Narayan, 
the fugitive Raja of Darning.* He thus learnt that matters 
were far more serious than had been supposed when he left 
Calcutta and that, if he was to be of any assistance, prompt 
measures were called for. He decided to proceed at once 
to the Raja's relief without waiting for further instructions 
from head-quarters. 

He wrote to the Governor General informing him of his Recovery 
decision, and on the 16th November started up the river °J ._._ 

• Bishnu Narayan showed Cap- heavy-laden ship on the point of 
tain Welsh a letter from Gaurinath sinking, 
in which he compared himself to a 



198 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

towards Gauhati.* Three days later, as the heavy boats con- 
veying the detachment were labouring up the stream, about 
three miles below the Nagarbera hill, a few canoes appeared in 
the distance. As they approached the fleet, they were hailed, 
and were found to contain Gaurinath and a few attendants, 
who had escaped with him from Gauhati at two o'clock on 
the previous morning. The immediate cause of his flight 
was not the advance of Krishna Narayan, but a raid by a 
mob of Doms, or fishermen, from Pakariguri, who had banded 
themselves together under a Bairdgi\ and, descending the 
Brahmaputra, had set fire to some houses near the king's 
residence. The Raja and his advisers had by this time 
become so demoralized that even this contemptible foe sufficed 
to inspire them with frantic terror, and they fled hastily 
without making the slightest effort at resistance. 

Gaurinath begged Captain Welsh to continue his journey, 
and declared that he had many adherents who would openly 
declare for him if he returned accompanied by a sufficient 
force. The advance was, therefore, continued. On the 
21st November, the Bar Barua, who had also fled, attached 
himself to the expedition. On the 23rd Hatimora was 
reached, and the tributary chief of Rani joined the party. 
Next evening the boats arrived at a point about eight 
miles west of Gauhati. Leaving a company in charge of 
the boats and the Raja, Captain Welsh, with the remain- 
ing five companies anl several nobles, including the Bar 
Barua, made a night march to Gauhati. apparently along 
the line now followed by the Trunk Road. The gateway 
near the town was reached without adventure. Hearing 

* This letter was crossed by one that if Krishna Narayan proved 

from Lord Cornwallis, lelaxing the hostile or insincere, vigorous mea- 

original order that no action was to sures should be taken, 
be taken peuding further instruc- -f This is the "Burjee Baja " of 

tions. Welsh was now told to act Captain Welsh's reports. In these 

as seemed best according to cir- reports Gaurinath is generally 

cumstances until more specific referred to as the Surgey Deo, a 

instructions could be given for corruption of Swargadeb or " Lord 

his guidance; it was added that of Heaven," the title by which the 

mediation should be sought and Ahoin kings were generally 

bloodshed avoided, if possible, but known. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 199 

footsteps, the men on duty went out with torches, but, 
on seeing the sepoys, they threw them down and fled in 
all directions, without even giving the alarm. The troops 
crossed in silence the wooden bridge which then spanned the 
Bharalu river and, making straight for the Bdirdgi's house, 
surprised and overpowered the occupants. In all, sixty 
persons were made prisoners and handed over to the Raja's 
people, who were told to treat them kindly. No resistance 
was anywhere encountered, and the ensuing day was spent 
in pitching camp and securing the position occupied by the 
troops. 

The Raja arrived in the evening with the boats and at 
once made his entry into the town in great state. At his 
own request he was given a guard of sepoys. 

Negotiations were now opened with Krishna Narayan, Proceed- 
and also with the leaders of his mercenaries, or barkandazes, ™S S *} . 
whom it was sought to induce to return home by the pay- 
ment of all arrears of salary and the release of their property 
in Bengal, which had been attached. The replies to these 
overtures, though couched in respectful and conciliatory terms, 
were thought to be evasive, and Krishna Narayan was called 
upon to prove his good faith by marching into Gauhati. 

Up to this time the sole object of the expedition had been 
the suppression of the freebooters whom Krishna Narayan 
had brought up from Bengal, and it had never been suggested 
that it should concern itself with the Moamaria rebellion in 
Upper Assam, of which indeed Government does not hitherto 
appear to have been cognizant.* Now, however, finding 
that he was totally unable to stand alone, and realizing, per- 
haps, that the assistance hitherto accorded him had been 
rendered without any sellish after-thought, Gaurinath stated 
that he wished to place himself unreservedly in the hands of 

* There is, at least, no mention to the arrival in the BurhaGohain's 

of it iu the late Sir James John- camp in 1791, of two native agents 

stone's elaborate summary of the sent by some British official, who 

official correspondence. It should is called a captain, to report on the 

be mentioned, however, that in one state of the country, 
of the Buranjis there is a reference 



200 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

the British Government and begged for assistance against 
all his enemies. 

This completely changed the position, and the petition 
was referred to the Governor General for orders. Captain 
Welsh himself was in favour of acceding to it, but he pointed 
out that, in the event of his views finding acceptance, it 
would be necessary to send another battalion to join him at 
Gauhati, and to post a second one as a reserve at Bijni on 
the north bank ; he also asked for a couple of six-pounders and 
transport cattle sufficient for the whole detachment, as none 
could be procured in Assam. 

Lord Cornwallis, in his reply, highly commended Captain 
Welsh for his conduct of the expedition, but said that before 
a final decision could be given regarding the proposed exten- 
sion of the original programme, the Raja should be made to 
understand that he must try to pacify his rebellious subjects 
by adopting conciliatory measures ; he also suggested that if, 
by the restoration of his ancestral rights, Krishna Narayan 
could be induced to submit, his troops with those already at 
Captain Welsh's disposal might prove sufficient to conduct 
the Raja to his capital. 
Opera- Before this communication was received, Captain Welsh 

tions h a d become convinced that Krishna Narayan was trifling 

Krishna w ^ n n i m > anc ^ ne determined to take vigorous measures to 
Narayan. reduce him to obedience. Before daylight on the morning 
of the 6th December, 1792, he crossed the Brahmaputra 
with two hundred and eighty men, and landed near a 
small hill with a temple on it, presumably Asvakranta, 
on and around which the enemy's troops, three thousand 
strong, were posted. The foot of the hill was reached 
without opposition, but at this point the enemy made 
several determined attempts to charge Welsh's small force. 
They were, however, unable to withstand the steady dis- 
cipline and superior arms of the sepoys, and fled with the 
loss of twenty killed and forty wounded, besides several pri- 
soners. Forty cannon mounted on the hill were also taken. 
On the British side, the only casualties were six men wounded. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 201 

Krishna Narayan rallied his men some distance from 
Gauhati, and, towards the end of the month, he was reported 
to be ravaging the tract east of the Bar Nadi which now 
forms the Mangaldai sub-division. A detachment of three 
companies under Lieutenant Williams was promptly sent 
against him, and, after some manoeuvring, engaged a band 
of five hundred Barkandazes at Khatikuchi. A hundred 
of them were killed or wounded, and the rest fled across 
the Bhutan frontier, which at this period extended 
into the plains as far as the Gosain Kamala Ali. There 
is nothing to show when this encroachment on the part 
of the Bhutias began, but it was not formally recognized 
until Gaurinath's time. 

The efforts which Welsh made to induce Gaurinath to Adminis- 

conciliate his numerous enemies by acts of clemencv were tr » tlve 

reiorms 
frustrated, not only by the vindictive disposition of the king intro- 

himself, but also by the evil advice given to him by the Bar duced by 
Barua and other ministers. It was now discovered that, Welsh, 
since the Raja's return to Gauhati, no less than one hundred 
and thirteen persons had been murdered, including twenty- 
four for whose good treatment Welsh himself had given 
special orders. Seventy others were found in prison dying 
from starvation. Strong measures were taken to put a stop to 
these and other atrocities. The Bar Barua and the Soladhara 
Phukan were placed under arrest ; the dismissal of the Bar 
Phukan was insisted on ; and the Kaja himself was severely 
rebuked. The latter, far from showing any signs of 
contrition, accepted full responsibility for all the brutalities 
that had been committed, and declared that he would 
rather abdicate than forego the power of killing and 
mutilating his subjects at will. He was therefore deprived 
temporarily of all authority, save over a hundred attendants 
who were placed at his disposal. A new Bar Phukan was 
appointed, and entrusted with the administration of Lower 
Assam. Two manifestoes were issued, one to the people of 
Assam, and the other to the chiefs and nobles. In the 
former, the people were informed that, in future, justice 



202 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Krishna 
Narayan 
submits. 



would be righteously administered, and certain days were 
appointed on which complaints would be heard and grievances 
redressed ; in the latter the chiefs and nobles were invited 
to come to Gauhati, and assist in concerting measures for 
ameliorating the condition of the country. 

Gaurinath now became more tractable, and signed an 
agreement consenting to the following measures, viz. the 
dismissal of the Bar Barua and other officials proved guilty of 
treachery or oppression ; the proclamation of a general 
amnesty ; the abolition of all punishments extending to death 
or mutilation, except after a regular trial ; and the convocation 
of all the chiefs and nobles at Gauhati for the purpose 
of framing measures for the re-establishment of the 
king's authority and the future good government of the 
country. The Bengal mercenaries in Gaurinath's employ 
were found to be oppressing the people and to be giving 
information o£ Welsh's movements to their friends in the 
Darrang Raja's camp. They were accordingly deported to 
Rangpur. 

In May, Krishna Narayan was induced to march into 
Gauhati with his remaining mercenaries, to the number of 
about four hundred. These were sent off under escort to 
Kangpur, where they were given their arrears of pay, amount- 
ing to nearly six thousand rupees, while Krishna Narayan, 
after taking the customary oath of allegiance, was formally 
installed as Raja of Darrang. He refunded the amount given 
to his disbanded clubmen and agreed, though very reluctantly, 
to pay an annual tribute of fifty-eight thousand rupees in 
lieu of the feudal obligation to supply soldiers and labourers'* ; 
he also agreed that his position was to be that of a landholder 
and not of a ruliug chief, and that the political and adminis- 
trative control should rest in the Bar Phukan, as it had done 
in the time of his predecessor. When these arrangements had 
been completed, he proceeded to Mangaldai and took formal 

* This sum of Es. 58,000 was for Koliabar Es. 3,000 ; in lieu of 
made up as follows : — for Darrang, customs duty between Darrang and 
lis. 50,000 ; for Chutiya Es. 2,000 ; Bhutan, Es. 3,000. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 203 

possession of his estate, accompanied by a guard of sepoys, 
which was furnished to him at his request.* 

In the following September some of Krishna Narayan's 
mercenaries, who had fled into Bhutan, re-appeared, bat they 
were easily dispersed by a small detachment sent against them. 
With this exception Darrang affairs gave no further trouble. 

In response to Welsh's request for re-inforcements, six 

more companies of sepoys were sent up from Bengal, but Halt at 

they did not all arrive until the latter part of April, when the ^ ai l hatl 

. durin° r 
time for field operations was over. It was, therefore, decided rainy" 

to halt at Gauhati for the rainy season, and to spend the seas ° n - 
interval in consolidating the Raja's position in Lower Assam 
and in restoring confidence. This task proved more difficult 
than had been anticipated. In spite of the promised amnesty, 
the chiefs and nobles showed no disposition to place them- 
selves in the Raja's power, and it was suspectel that some 
hostile influence was at work. It was discovered that the 
dismissed Bar Barua and Soladhara Phukan were still 
intriguing and causing mischief, and they were deported to 
Rangpur in Bengal. The removal of these malcontents was 
productive of the best possible results. Soon afterwards the 
three ^reat (iohains signified their adherence to Captain 
Welsh, and their example was followed by most of the 
officials as well as by the feudatory chiefs. 

Towards the end of October an advance-guard under 
Lieutenant Macgregor was sent up the river to Koliabar, and 
great exertions were made to send up supplies, with a view 
to making that place a base for the coming operations in 
Upper Assam. The pacification of! Nowgong was also 
effected, and the banditti who infested the river and inter- 
rupted communications bttween Gauhati and Goalpara were 
suppressed. 

Everything was now ready for the campaign against the 

* Krishna Narayan also claimed other members of his family find 

the portion of Ivatrn up which lies the question was postponed for 

north of the Brahmaputra, but a future decision, 
similar claim was advanced by two 



204 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Advance 
to Upper 
Assam. 



Moamarias, but Gaurinath was a confirmed opium eater and 
his long-continued excesses in the consumption of this drug 
had induced such a condition of physical lethargy and mental 
torpor that he could hardly be persuaded to leave Gauhati. 
He was also, apparently, far from satisfied that Welsh, with 
such a small force, would be able to overcome the hosts which 
the Moamarias could bring into the field. 

At last a move was made and, in January, 1794, the 
whole expedition advanced to Koliabar. Gaurinath here sent 
for Captain Welsh and, after recounting his misfortunes, the 
evils inflicted on the people by his bad ministers, and the in- 
valuable services rendered him by the British Government, 
declared that he possessed neither the ability nor inclination to 
transact business with his officers. He therefore begged him to 
concert the necessary measures with them. He also wrote to 
the Governor General, begging that Captain Welsh might be 
permitted to employ the troops under his command, in any 
way that might seem expedient to him and the ministers, for 
the restoration of order, and undertaking to pay a sum of 
Us. 300,000 annually for their maintenance. Of this sum half 
was to be collected by the Bar Phukan from the districts 
under his control, and the other half by the Bar Barua from 
the rest of the Ahom dominions. Iu consultation with the 
Bar Gohain, the Barpatra Gohain and the Solal Gohain, 
Captain Welsh appointed the Pani Silia Gohain to be Bar 
Barua, while two princes who had escaped the general senteuce 
of mutilation pronounced on the royal family by Gaurinath, 
when he ascended the throne, were given the posts of Tipam 
Raja and Saring Raja, respectively. A letter was despatched 
to the Moamaria chiefs, calling on them to accept the oppor- 
tunity of settling their differences with the Raja, and 
assuring them of their safety should they do so, but adding 
that, if they refused, the blame would rest on their own 
shoulders. It was afterwards ascertained that this letter 
never reached its destination, the bearer of it having 
been afraid, or unable, to pass through the outlying rebel 
forces. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 205 

Lieutenant Macgregor was again sent on ahead to recon- m &- 
noitre and arrange about supplies. He reached Debargaon ™*" 5B d 
on the 11th February and, on the 14th, paid a three days' at j or hat. 
visit to Jorhat, to interview the Burha Gohain, who was still 
maintaining the unequal struggle against the insurgents. 
Shortly after his return to Debargaon, the Moamarias, who 
had learnt of his visit to Jorhat, appeared before that place 
in such numbers that the Burha, Gohain sent him an urgent 
appeal for help. Although his force consisted of only forty- 
six men of all ranks he did not hesitate for a moment. As 
soon as he received the news, he sent off a Subadar and 
twenty men, who safely reached Jorhat ; and the next evening 
he followed them in person, accompanied by Ensign Wood, a 
havildar and fourteen men. A Naik and eight sepoys were 
left in charge of the boats. The small party marched all 
night and, early next morning, arrived in the vicinity of the 
Moamaria camp. A detour to the right was made to avoid it, 
and then the two officers, impatient of the delay, left the 
sepoys to come on with the baggage and, pushing on through 
the jungle with a few servants and camp followers, reached 
Jorhat about 8 A.M.* 

They found that the Moamarias had advanced the same 
morning, and were at that moment quite close to Jorhat. 
Without waiting for the rest of his force, Macgregor at once 
mustered the party of twenty men under the Subadar, who 
had arrived the previous day, and led them out in support of 
the Burha Gohain's troops. He had just drawn up his small 
force, with their right covered by an embankment, when he was 

* The reckless way in which effecting his object, and reported 

these officers left their small guard that Sinduri was surrounded by 

and marched alone into Jorhat one thousand armed men, who 

shows the contempt they must have announced their determination to 

felt for the enemy. oppose his arrest. This explanation 

The following incident shows was held to be inadequate ; and the 

this even more clearly. While Naik was court-martialled, and 

Macgregor was encamped at Kolia- sentenced to reduction to the ranks 

bar he sent a Naik with four men for a month. It is only fair to add 

to arrest Sindari Hazarika, the that Captain Welsh refused to 

leader of the Moamarias in Now- confirm this sentence, 
gong. The Naik returned without 



206 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

attacked by a mob of two thousand Moamarias, who came 
crowding on, confident of victory. The sepoys, although 
they received but little aid from the Burha Gohain's troops, 
behaved with great coolness ; they obeyed the instructions of 
their two officers to fire singly and at separate objects, and 
inflicted such heavy losses upon the enemy, that the latter 
were soon in full retreat. No casualties were suffered by the 
little detachment. About 1 p.m., the same afternoon Lieute- 
nant Macgregor was again attacked while reconnoitring, but 
soon routed his assailants. His loss was only four men 
wounded. The Moamarias in the two engagements lost 
about eighty killed and wounded. 
Rangpur News of these events reached Captain Welsh on the 23rd 

captured. j^ru^y. He at once set out with all his troops, except one 
company which was left at Koliabar to guard the stores, and 
reached Debargaon on the 8th March. From this place 
another letter was addressed to the Moamaria leaders, but it, 
like the former one, was never delivered. When the advance 
was resumed, Lieutenant Irwin was sent ahead with two 
companies. He had reached a place about twelve miles from 
Rangpur when he was furiously attacked by a large number 
of men armed with matchlocks, spears and bows. He drove 
off his assailants and, pushing on, took up a strong 
position on a brick bridge over the Namdang river, four or 
five miles from Rangpur. In this engagement he had two 
men killed and thirty-five wounded. The Moamarias lost 
far more heavily, and their leader himself was seriously 
wounded. 

Captain Welsh hastened to join the advance-guard and, 
on the 18th March, the whole party proceeded to Rangpur, 
which had just been evacuated by the enemy. Their flight 
was so sudden that they left behind them large quantities of 
grain, cattle and even treasure. The booty was sold, and 
realized a sum of Rs. 1,17,334 which, with Gaurinath's 
approval, was distributed among the troops as prize money. 
This action afterwards brought down upon Captain Welsh 
a severe rebuke from the Governor General. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 207 

Gaurmath, who had remained with the boats , which were Governor 

being" brought up the Dikhu, reached Rangpur on the 21st General 

recalls 
March. On his arrival, Captain Welsh held a grand durbar t ^ e ex . 

and, in the presence of the nobles, asked the Raja if he could pedition. 

now dispense with the help of British troops. The answer 

was an emphatic negative. The Raja and his ministers were 

unanimous in asserting that, if they were withdrawn, the 

country would inevitably return to a state of anarchy. 

Welsh, therefore, decided to complete the pacification of the 

Moamarias. Before resorting to force, he made a fresh 

attempt to obtain a peaceful settlement, and he induced the 

Raja to write to the rebels promising them pardon if they 

would come in. Welsh himself guaranteed the fulfilment of 

this promise. He waited a month for an answer, but none 

was received, and it became clear that the Moamarias would 

never submit until they were thoroughly beaten. On the 

19th April, Welsh despatched three companies to attack their 

head-quarters at Bagmara near Rangpur, but it had not 

proceeded many miles when orders were received from 

Government prohibiting further offensive operations, and it 

was accordingly recalled to Rangpur. 

Sir John Shore had taken the place of Lord Cornwallis Change of 

as Governor General in December, 1793 ; and his accession P ollc y 

txDlainod. 
marked a distinct change in the policy of the Government of 

India. Non-interference was the key-note of the new admin- 
istration. The result, in Assam, was disastrous. Captain 
Welsh had succeeded admirably in the task assigned to 
him; and had not only shown himself a good organizer 
and a bold and determined leader, but had also displayed 
consummate tact and singular administrative ability. He 
had gained the confidence of all classes. He had dismissed 
the more oppressive and corrupt officials, and had secured 
the cordial co-operation of the others; while by a policy 
of conciliation and clemency, combined with firmness, he 
had procured the submission of the Darrang Raja and 
had induced the people generally to acquiesce in Gaurinath's 
restoration. Gaurmath had several times written to 



208 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Government expressing cordial appreciation of his services, 
and begging that he might be allowed to remain at least some 
time longer, and had offered to pay the whole of the expenses 
of the troops. This appeal was seconded by Welsh himself, 
who reported that, if the detachment were withdrawn, 
" confusion, devastation and massacre would ensue "; that the 
king left to himself would never keep the promises of pardon 
which he had been induced to make ; that Krishna Narayan, 
fearing assassination, would either flee from the country or 
import more barkandazes ; that the obnoxious favourites would 
be recalled and would wreak their resentment on all who had 
cultivated the friendship of the English ; and that the 
Moamarias would soon break out again and once more expel 
the Raja from his capital. But the new Governor General 
had already made up his mind ; and, in spite of these 
representations, he issued the order, above alluded to, directing 
Captain Welsh to abstain from all further active operations, 
and to return to British territory by the 1st July at the 
latest. 
Final acts On the withdrawal of the troops sent against them, the 
tion. " Moamarias returned to the neighbourhood of the Dikhu river 
and, emboldened by their immunity from attack, actually 
plundered some granaries within the precincts of Rangpur. 
A second raid of the same kind was prevented by a 
timely alarm. In the face of this renewed activity of the 
insurgents, and of the danger to which, not only the king's 
followers, but the expedition itself, would be exposed unless 
something were done, Welsh determined to make a final effort 
to disperse them before starting on his journey back to 
Bengal. Accordingly, at 2> a.m. on the morning of May 5th 
he marched out against the rebels and drove them from their 
encampment. They retreated so rapidly that they escaped 
without much loss, and, taking up a fresh position on the 
right bank of the Darika river, continued their guerilla tactics. 
He, therefore, on the 12th May, crossed the Dikhu with all 
his available troops and marched against their new position. 
On this occasion, either because his advance was expected Or 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 209 

because, having now a force of four thousand men, they felt 
more confident of success, they advanced boldly to the attack, 
and greeted the oncoming sepoys with a storm of bullets 
and arrows. But their new-found courage soon oozed away ; 
and, when they saw the troops continuing to advance, they 
broke and fled. They were hotly pursued and, in the end, 
were entirely dispersed with heavy loss. Their camp was 
burned, and the troops returned to Rangpur with only two 
casualties. 

A few days later, in spite of the urgent entreaties of the 
Raja, Captain Welsh reluctantly left Rangpur on his down- 
ward voyage. He arrived at Gauhati on the 30th May. Here 
he was overwhelmed with petitions imploring him to remain 
from all sorts and conditions of people, whose interests would 
be ruined by the removal of the troops, and who had, in many 
cases, given their adhesion to Gaurinath on the under- 
standing that Welsh would protect them from injustice or 
molestation. But the orders of the Governor General were 
imperative, and, on the 3rd July, 1794, the expedition again 
reached British territory. 

Many of Welsh's gloomy prognostications were quickly Mis- 
realized. As soon as the expedition was withdrawn, Gauri- g ™™' 
nath, despairing of holding Rangpur, proceeded with his chief ensues, 
nobles to Jorhat, which now became the capital. He had 
barely left Rangpur when the Moamarias, hearing of the 
departure of the British troops, collected their scattered forces 
and advanced against the town. The garrison fled to Jorhat 
without making any attempt at resistance, and the place fell 
once more into the hands of the insurgents. 

The officers and others who had been befriended or protected 
by Captain Welsh now became the victims of Gaurinath's 
vindictive spite. The Bar Barua, who had been appointed on 
that officer's nomination, was stripped of all his belongings 
and dismissed ; the Bar Phukan was accused of disloyalty and 
barbarously murdered, and the Solal Gohain shared the same 
fate. The Bairagi who had led the attack on Gauhati was 
beheaded. All persons of the Moamaria persuasion within the 



210 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Standing 
army 
created in 
Upper 
Assam. 



Sadiya 
taken 
by the 
Khamtis. 



tract owning allegiance to the king were hunted down, robbed 
and tortured to death ; and the brutalities to which they were 
subjected were so appalling that many committed suicide to 
avoid falling into the hands of their persecutors. 

The greatest confusion ensued, and the grip of the central 
administration on the outlying provinces was seriously weak- 
ened. At Gauhati a Bengali mercenary, named Hajara 
Singh, held the post of Bar Phukan at his disposal. He sold 
it to one candidate for ten thousand rupees, and then 
supplanted him in favour of another, who bid sixty thousand 
rupees. The latter is reputed to have raised the wherewithal 
for payment by despoiling the Kamakhya, Hajo and other 
temples of their gold and silver utensils. Hajara Singh was 
at length defeated and killed by some mercenaries brought up 
from Bengal. 

Meanwhile, in Upper Assam, steps were being taken to 
form a standing army, modelled on the pattern of that main- 
tained by the East India Company. It was recruited in the 
first instance from men who had served with credit in the 
Burha Gohain's operations against the Moamarias. They 
were given a uniform, armed with flint-lock guns purchased in 
Calcutta, and drilled and disciplined by two of Captain 
Welsh's native officers, who had been induced by heavy 
bribes to remain in Assam.* With the aid of this force 
the king's officers were once more able to show a bold 
front to the Moamarias and other internal enemies, and, 
but for the intervention of the Burmese, the downfall of the 
Ahom dynasty might have been considerably delayed. 

They were not, however, able to retain their hold of 
Sadiya. In 1794 this place was taken by the Khamtis, who 
had descended from the hills to the east some fifty or sixty 
years previously, and had established themselves, with the 
permission of the Ahom Raja, on the bank of the Tengapani. 



♦Previous to this time flint guns 
were not in use in Assam. There 
wa>, however, a plentiful supply of 
matchlocks. Captain Welsh found 
twenty thousand of these weapons 



at Gauhati, but the officials had so 
neglected their duties that there 
were few who knew how to use 
them. 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 211 

They defeated a so-called Raja, who had been set up by some 
Doms of the Moamaria sect, and reduced the local Assamese 
to slavery. Their chief arrogated to himself the title of 
Sadiya Khowa Gohain. 

Gaurinath Singh did not long survive his restoration to Gaurinath 
power. In less than eighteen months after Captain Welsh's s j n gh 
return to Bengal he was seized with a mortal illness, and, on 
the 19th December, 1794, his misspent life came to an end. 
The Burha Gohain, who was on the spot, concealed his death ; 
and, on the pretence that the king had sent for the Bar 
Barua, induced that officer to come to the palace, where, still 
using the king's name, he caused him to be arrested and put 
to death. Having got rid of his most powerful rival, he 
announced Gaurinath/s death and appointed as his successor 
Kinaram, a descendant of Gadadhar Singh who, he declared, 
had been nominated by Gaurinath himself on his death-bed. 

Gaurinath was the most incompetent, blood-thirsty, tt- 
disreputable and cowardly of all the Ahom kings. He was character, 
described by Captain Welsh as " a poor debilitated man, in- 
capable of transacting business, always either washing or 
praying, and, when seen, intoxicated with opium/' His 
vindictive treatment of the Moamarias and other enemies 
has already been mentioned. But the stimulus of hatred or 
revenge was not needed to induce him to perpetrate the gross- 
est barbarities ; he would frequently do so from the sheer 
love of inflicting suffering on others, and he never moved out 
without a body of executioners ready to carry out his sanguin- 
ary orders. Many stories are told which reveal his cruel and 
brutal nature, but a single instance will suffice. One of his 
servants having inadvertently answered a question intended 
for another, he instantly caused him to be seized, his eyeballs 
to be extracted, and his ears and nose to be cut off. Gaurinath 
neglected entirely the duties of his kingly office, which he left 
to his intriguing and corrupt favourites. These were stigma- 
tized by Captain Welsh as "a set of villains, all drawing 
different ways." It was probably the vices and excesses of 
the king and his parasites, quite as much as the physical and 

p2 



212 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

moral deterioration of the people, that led to the ignominious 
overthrow of his government by the Moamaria rabble. The 
signal success of Captain Welsh's small force, ably handled 
though it was, clearly shows what contemptible foes the 
Moamarias really were ; and it is impossible to believe that the 
Ahoms, much as they may have degenerated, would have been 
unable to repel them, had they presented a united front, 
instead of being distracted by jealousy and mutual distrust, 
and had not their loyalty been sapped by the brutal excesses 
of the inhuman monster, who called himself their king, 
and of his equally infamous ministers. 
Condition During his reign the people, who had hitherto enjoyed 
people in a ^ a * r measure °^ happiness and prosperity, were plunged 
his time, into the depths of misery and despair. "Where the 
Moamarias held sway, whole villages were destroyed, and 
the inhabitants, robbed of all their possessions, were forced to 
flee the country, or to eke out a precarious existence by eating 
wild fruits and roots and the flesh of unclean animals. The 
country between Dergaon and Rangpur, once so highly culti- 
vated, was found desolate by Captain Welsh, and many large 
villages had been entirely deserted by their inhabitants.* In 
Lower Assam the Bengal mercenaries and gangs of marauding 
banditti who flocked into the province caused similar, though 
less widespread, havoc, while where Gaurinath himself had 
power, all persons belonging to the Moamaria communion 
were subjected to all manner of persecutions and barbarities. 
Wei h's Some interesting information regarding the condition of 

descrip- the country towards the close of the eighteenth century is con- 
kfTh tained in Captain Welsh's reports. At that time Gauhati 
country, was an extensive and populous town. It was situated on 
both banks of the Brahmaputra and extended to the neighbour- 
ing hills. Along a portion of the river bank there was a 
rampart, on which were mounted one hundred and thirteen 

• In his last letter to Sir John destroyed " cows, Brahmans, women 

Shore begging for the retention of and children " to the extent of one 

the British detachment, Gaurinath hundred thousand lives, 
affirmed that the Moamarias had 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOJVt KINGDOM. 213 

guns of different calibre, including three of European manu- 
facture. The only other fortification of any kind was a large 
oblong enclosure, a hundred yards from the river, surrounded 
by a brick wall six feet in height, with a narrow wet ditch 
inside and out, and containing a thatched building, so 
enormous that the whole of the detachment found accommoda- 
tion in it. Rangpur, which had been for many years the 
Ahom capital, was a large and thickly populated town, twenty 
miles in extent. In the centre was an enclosure, similar to 
that found at Gauhati, but much out of repair. The surround- 
ing country had been very highly cultivated. The nobles 
held large tracts of land, which were tilled by their 
slaves, but the produce was never brought to market, and it 
was all but impossible to buy grain. Salt and opium were 
found more serviceable than money as a means of procuring 
supplies. 

At the sale of the loot taken at Rangpur, rice in the 
husk was sold at the rate of six hundred pounds per rupee, 
while buffaloes fetched five rupees, and cows two rupees, each.* 
In spite of these low prices and the consequent dearness of 
money, the resources of the country were such that Gaurinath 
was able to offer a large subsidy for the retention of the 
British troops. 

The trade with Bengal was considerable, and the officials 
who farmed the customs revenue paid Rs. 90,000 a year to the 

* In a copper-plate deed of gran t where again rice is priced at 8 

of 1661 Sak (1739 A.D.) the prices annas and inatikalai at 10 annas 

of various commodities are quoted, per niaund ; earthen pots at a 

viz., rice, 2\ annas per maund ; rupee for 224 and betel leaf at an 

milk, 2^ annas ; grain, 4 annas; anna for 20 bundles of 20 # leaves 

salt and oil, 4f annas ; gur, 1£ each. Amongst other articles of 

annas, and black pepper, Rs. 20 per which prices are given may be 

maund. Betel leaf was sold at 40 mentioned goats, Re. 1 each ; 

bundles for an anna, earthen pots or ducks, 1 anna each; pigeons, 1 

Jcalsis at 643 per rupee, and areca pice ; dhutis, 5 annas, and 

nuts at 5,120 per rupee. In other gdmchas, 6 pice each. The 

similar records of the same period, price of salt appears to have 

the price of rice is quoted at 4 annas ranged from 5 to 10 rupees per 

per maund ; gur, Rs. 2,\ ; matikalai, maund ; it stood at the latter figure 

5 annas ; pulse and ghi, 10 annas, in Captain Welsh's time, 
and oil, Rs. 3| per maund. Else- 



214 THE DECAY AND PALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Bar Pliukan of which, however, only Rs. 26,000 reached the 
royal treasury. Before the disturbances the registered imports 
of salt from Bengal amounted to 120,000 maunds a year, or 
barely one-sixth of the quantity imported at the present day. 
At that time, however, a certain amount was produced 
locally, and some, no doubt, was smuggled past the custom 
house. The money price was three times as great as it is 
now, while, measured in paddy, it was more than forty 
times as great. It was thus quite beyond the means of the 
common people. 
Kamales- On ascending the throne, Kinaram took the Hindu name 
1795I 1 Kamalesvar, and the Ahom name Suklingpha. He ap- 
1810. pointed his father to the post of Saring Raja. He left the 
government of the country in the hands of the Burha 
Gohain who had raised him to the throne. This was fortu- 
nate, as the officer in question was by far the most capable 
and energetic noble in the country. In the previous reign, 
although deserted by the king and unaided, if not intrigued 
against, by the other nobles, he had steadfastly set himself 
to resist the advance of the Moamaria rebels, and had for 
years held his own against their repeated attacks. Now 
that there was a king who was willing to support him, he 
made a clean sweep of the officials who were opposed to him, 
and, having done so, devoted all his efforts to the restoration 
of order throughout the country. With this object the 
system of maintaining a disciplined body of troops, which 
had been introduced at the close of the last reign, was con- 
tinued and extended. In the depleted state of the treasury, 
it was found difficult to provide funds to pay the wages of 
the sepoys. The Adhikars, or spiritual heads of the Sat- 
tras, were, therefore, called upon to assist by contributing 
sums, ranging from four thousand rupees downwards, accord- 
ing to their means. 
Abortive Soon after Kamalesvar's accession a serious rising was 

tion in " re P or ted from Kamrup. Two brothers named Har Dattaand 
Kamrup. Bir Datta, with the secret aid, it is said, of the Rajas of 
Koch Bihar and Bijni, who hoped through them to recover 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 215 

Kainnip for one of their race, raised a band of Kacharis and 
uf Punjabi and Hindustani refugees and declared themselves 
independent. Large numbers flocked to their standard, and 
nearly the whole of North Kamrup fell into their hands, 
while according to some they also occupied part of the south 
bank. They were nicknamed Dumdumiyas. Mr. Raush of 
Goalpara was caught and killed by a band of these rebels, 
while on a trading expedition to Danang, and his boats 
were plundered.* 

The Bar Phukan was unable to obtain help from Upper 
A -am where, as will shortly be seen, the Burha Gohain was 
already fully employed. He, therefore, raised a force of 
Hindustanis, and with these, and some local levies obtained 
from the Bajas of Beltola and Dimarua, he crossed the 
Brahmaputra and attacked and defeated the rebels in several 
engagements. Har Datta and his brother fled, but were even- 
tually caught and put to a painful death. Their fall was 
due largely to their own overbearing conduct, which had 
alienated the people of the better class, who preferred to be 
ruled by foreigners rather than by arrogant upstarts from their 
own ranks. For his successful conduct of these operations 
the Bar Phukan was rewarded with the title Pratap Ballabh. 

In the same year a mixed body of Daflas and Moamarias Insurrec- 
raised the standard of revolt on the north bank of the Brah- *! ^ °* 
maputra.t They crossed the river to Silghat, but at this a nd Moa- 
place they were met and defeated by the newly-raised army manas « 
of regulars. Many of them were killed, and others were 
drowned while trying to get into their boats. Many also 
were captured and beheaded, and their heals were stuck up on 
stakes as a warning to others. 

* Sir James Johnstone says that Assam. During Captain Welsh's 

Mr. Raush was murdered by the expedition their leading men had 

Darrang Raja, whom he Lad visited an interview at Koliabar with 

in the hope of obtaining eompensa- Lieutenant Macgregor, who stated 

tion for property destroyed at that they had ranged them- 

Gauhati. selves on the side of the Bar 

t At this period the Daflas had Gohain. He described them as 

taken to interfering very con- "men of excellent understanding 

siderably in public affairs in and pleasant manners-/' 



216 THE1DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

The Burha Gohain was unable at the time to continue the 
pursuit across the river, as he was still engaged in restoring 
order on the south bank, and in renovating the town of 
Rangpur, which had been much damaged during the long civil 
war. But as soon as he was free, he crossed to the north 
bank, near the present town of Tezpur, and very soon 
reduced the Daflas to submission. He proceeded to Goramur 
where he defeated several rebel bands, capturing and 
putting to death Phophai Senapati and other leaders. He 
next marched to the mouth of the Kherketia Suti, and 
thence to Singaluguri, where a number of Moamaria refugees 
had collected. These also he defeated. Their Mahanta, Pitam- 
bar, was captured and put to death, but another leader, 
known as Bharathi Raja, escaped ; it is not clear if this man 
is identical with the Bharat Singh whom the Moamarias 
installed at Rangpur in 1793. A great quantity of booty 
was taken, and many prisoners, who were deported to 
Khutiapota. 

In 1799 there was a fresh outbreak of the Moamarias at 

Bengmara, headed by Bharathi Raja. An expedition was sent 

against them and they were put to flight. Their leader was 

shot early in the action. These successive defeats appear to 

have convinced the Moamarias of the hopelessness of further 

resistance, and for several years no further trouble was given 

by them in Eastern Assam. 

Opera- ^ ne Singphos remained to be reckoned with, and also the 

tions Khamtis, who had established themselves at Sadiya during 

slmroljos ^ Qe recen ^ period of anarchy. The former were attacked 

and and put to flight in 1798, while the latter were defeated 

Khamtis. in 180Q ^ with the logs of many killed ^ } nc ] uc i mg their 

Burha Raja, and numerous prisoners. The prisoners were 
taken to Rangpur and settled, some on the Desoi river north 
of Jorhat and some at Titabar. It is said that in this battle 
the Khamtis were aided by other Shan tribes, such as Naras 
and Phakials, and also by the Abors, at whose hands they 
had some time previously suffered a defeat, in the course of 
hostilities arising from the kidnapping, by them, of certain 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 217 

Miris owning allegiance to the Abors. After their defeat 
by the Ahoms, the Khamtis seem to have disappeared for a 
time ; and they did not again become paramount in Sadiya 
until the final collapse of the Ahom power in the reign of 
Chandrakant. 

All this time the Burha Gohain had been making con- Burba 
stant efforts to induce fugitive cultivators to return to their Gohain 
homes. He offered a free pardon to those who had fought back fugi- 
on the side of the rebels, and many such persons came back, tr ^ e cn " 1- 
but a number of Moamarias, who had taken refuge in 
Kachari and Jaintia territory, preferred to remain where 
they were rather than place themselves in the power of 
their old enemy. This led to a long correspondence with the 
Kachari and Jaintia Rajas, who both declined to drive away 
their new subjects. The Jaintia controversy appears to have 
terminated with the ignominious expulsion of an envoy from 
Ram Singh, the Jaintia Raja, because the letters which he 
brought were thought to be discourteous, and did not con- 
tain the adulatory epithets customary in the intercourse 
between oriental rulers. 

The dispute with the Kachari king, Krishna Chandra, Hostili- 
came to a head in 1803, when a force was despatched to ties with 
recover the fugitives, most of whom appear to have settled J ^ a ar J^ 
in the tract of level country round Dharampur, between the Kacharis 
Mikir Hills and the Jamuna river. The expedition assem- ff0Dg# 
bled at Raha and advanced to Jamunamukh, where it beat 
back a combined force of Kacharis and Moamarias. The 
enemy afterwards rallied, and took to raiding and burning 
villages near Nowgong town. Then, being strengthened by 
numerous fresh accessions to their ranks, they ventured on 
a second engagement, and gained a complete victory over 
the Ahom troops, who retreated to Gauhati with the loss of 
five hundred and forty men killed besides many wounded 
and prisoners. 

On hearing of this reverse, the Burha Gohain called in 
the troops stationed in the eastern districts and sent them 
with fresh levies to renew the conflict. The Moamarias 



218 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Moamaria 
rising in 
the east. 



Darrang 
affairs. 



were now in their turn put to flight in a battle near Nowgong, 
and fled down the Kallang to Raha. The Ahom force, after 
driving them from Raha, ascended the Kopili to its junction 
with the Jamuna, and proceeded thence up the Jamuna to 
Doboka, where it sacked and destroyed all the hostile 
villages. At this stage, disputes broke out between the 
Moamarias and their Kachari allies. Some of the latter 
deserted to the Ahom camp, and were given land in the 
neighbourhood of Bebejia. 

There was now a short lull in the hostilities, but they 
were renewed in 1805, when a signal defeat was inflicted on 
the Moamarias and Kacharis. Great numbers were killed, 
and the survivors lost heart and dispersed, some returning to 
their old homes and others fleeing to Khaspur and the 
Jaintia parganas. 

In the same year there was a fresh rising of the Moran 
Moamarias east of the Dibru river, whose chief, Sarbananda 
Singh, had established himself at Bengmara. They were 
defeated at Bahatiating, and beat a hasty retreat to Solonga- 
guri. They suffered great hardships during the rainy 
season, and many died of fever and dysentery. They then 
made their submission, and were settled at Ghilamara, a guard 
being placed there to keep them in order. While this rising 
was in progress the Moamarias had sent a person, called 
Ramnath Bar Barua, to invoke the aid of the Burmese 
monarch. This was not at first granted, but, in response to 
fresh appeals, parties of Burmese were twice brought into the 
country. On both occasions, however, they were bribed or 
brought over by the agents of the watchful Burha Gohain. 
In the end the latter relaxed his severity towards this section 
of the Moamarias and gave the title of Bar Senapati to their 
chief, who, on his part, seems to have fulfilled his obligations 
and to have collected and paid over the revenue from the 
people acknowledging his authority. 

About this time Krishna Narayan, the Darrang Raja, 
having faller into disfavour, was superseded by his relative 
Samudra Narayan. The latter was strictly enjoined to do 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 219 

his utmost to recover fugitives and settle them in their old 
villages, a matter in which Krishna Narayan appears to have 
been somewhat remiss. He was also told to prevent the 
Bhutias from encroaching. As the Bhutia authorities had 
shortly before complained of encroachments beyond the 
Kamala Ali, which they claimed as the boundary, and had 
been put off with an evasive answer, it would seem that the 
intention was to win back the tract of country which the 
Bhutias had seized during the disturbances of the previous 
reigns, and that the so-called raids were merely efforts on 
the part of the Bhutias to maintain their hold on it. 

The vigour which the Burha Gohain had displayed in dis- Peace re- 
persing all rebel forces and inflicting condign punishment on stored ' 
the disaffected, coupled with the toleration he showed for 
those who made their submission, now began to bear fruit. 
For the remaining years of this reign, the country enjoyed 
profound peace, and nothing worthy of record occurred. 

In 1810 there was a bad epidemic of small-pox. King dies. 
Kamalesvar caught the infection and succumbed to the disease. (jeneral 
During his reign, which lasted for fifteen and a half years, the his reign . 
power of the Moamarias was broken, order was restored, and 
the people again became fairly prosperous. The credit, 
however, is due, not to Kamalesvar, but to his able and 
energetic Burha Gohain, in whose hands he was a mere puppet. 
It was, as we have seen, this officer who alone upheld the 
Ahom cause during Gaurinath's disgraceful reign, and it 
was he who, after Captain Welsh's departure, conceived and 
carried out the idea of maintaining a properly disciplined 
standing army in the place of the old system of calling out 
the villagers to act as soldiers. It was he again who led the 
new troops in their earlier engagements and who supervised the 
operations in their subsequent campaigns. Nor was it only 
in the field that he distinguished himself. His success in re- 
storing peace and quiet was almost equally attributable to his 
lenient treatment of the rebels who made their submission and 
to his wise and equitable system of administration. He 
restored Rangpur to something like its former condition, and 



220 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 



Chandra- 
kant, 
1810 to 
1818. 



Proposal 
to accept 
British, 
suprem- 
acy. 



Intrigues 
at the 
Capital. 



did much to improve the new town at Jorhat. The Bhogdai 
was excavated in order to provide this town with a better 
water-supply, and its communications were improved by the 
construction of a road connecting it with Basa.* 

The Burha Grohain nominated Chandrakant, the brother 
of the late king, as his successor on the throne. He assumed 
the Ahom name Sudinpha. Being still a boy he was unable 
to take much part in the government of the country, and the 
control still remained with the Burha Gohain. 

In order to prevent fresh internal dissensions the Bar 
Phukan proposed that the country should follow the example 
of Koch Bihar, and become tributary to the British Govern- 
ment. The Burha Gohain discussed this proposal with the 
other nobles, but it was rejected, as it was thought that it 
would be very unpopular with the people. 

As Chandrakant grew up, he began to fret at the Burha 
Gohain's influence, and struck up a great friendship with a 
youth of his own age named Satram, the son of an Ahom 
soothsayer. He would often listen to this lad's advice in 
preference to that of his nobles, and at last took to receiving 
them in audience with Satram seated at his side. They 
protested, but in vain, and things rapidly went from 



* This eulogy on the Burha 
Gohain is based on the detailed 
account of bis operations against 
the Moamarias contained in the 
Buranjis, and is written advisedly, 
in spite of Captain Welsh's state- 
ment that " the Burha Gohain may 
with great justice be suspected of 
having favoured the insurrection." 
There is nothing whatever in the 
native accounts of this period 
that in any way supports this 
accusation, which was probably 
grounded on secret allegations 
made by other rival ministers, who 
had access to Captain Welsh from 
the beginning, whereas he did not 
meet the Burha Gohain till towards 
the end of the expedition. Welsh 
himself describes these ministers 
as unscrupulous intriguers. The 



evidence of such persons, who had 
themselves abandoned the contest, 
cannot be accepted as throwing any 
slur on an officer who, alone, for 
many years before Welsh came to 
Assam, had kept the Moamarias in 
check, and who continued to do so 
after he had again departed. It may 
be added that, when Lieutenant 
Macgregor went on ahead of the 
main force to arrange for its com- 
missariat, he reported that the 
Burha Gohain gave him every assist- 
ance in his power. I can also quote 
Colonel Hannay in support of my 
view. In his Notes on the Moa- 
marias he says : " Purnanand {i.e. 
the Burha) Gohain may be said to 
have been the protector and rege- 
nerator of his country for a period 
of twenty years." 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 221 

bad to worse. Satram became more and more insolent in his 
dealings with them, and at last, thinking to obtain the 
supreme power for himself, he sought to procure the assassina- 
tion of the Burba Gohain. Like most such plots, it was divulged 
too soon. The Burba Gohain arrested all the conspirators and 
put them to death, except Satram, who fled for protection to 
the king. The Burba Gohain insisted on his surrender, and 
the king at last reluctantly gave him up, after stipulating 
that his life should be spared. The young upstart was banished 
toNamrup, where he was soon afterwards killed by some Nagas. 
It was beheved by many that the king himself was privy to 
Satram's conspiracy. Others averred that Satram was mur- 
dered at the instigation of the Burba Gohain. 

Meanwhile the Bar Phukan died, and one Badan Chandra A new Bar 
was chosen as his successor. This appointment was a most Phukan 
disastrous one, and was destined to involve the country in trouble. 
even greater troubles than those from which it had only 
recently emerged. Before long, reports began to come in of his 
oppressive behaviour and gross 'exactions, while the conduct 
of his sons was even more outrageous. One of their favourite 
pranks was to make an elephant intoxicated with bhang, and 
let it loose in Gauhati, while they followed at a safe distance, 
and roared with laughter as the brute demolished houses and 
killed the people who were unlucky enough to come in its way. 

At last things reached such a pass that the Burha Gohain 
determined on Badan Chandra's removal. His decision was 
strengthened, it is said, by the suspicion that he had favoured 
Satram's conspiracy.* Men were sent to arrest him, but, being 
warned in time by his daughter, who had married the Burba 
Gohain's son, he escaped to Bengal. He proceeded to 
Calcutta, and, alleging that the Burba Gohain was subverting 
the Government and ruining the country, endeavoured to per- 
suade the Governor General to despatch an expedition against 
him. The latter, however, refused to interfere in any way. 

* In Wilson's Narrative of the bad odour with the Burha Gohain, 
Burmese War this is assigned as but the Buranjis clearly show 
the Pole reason for his falling into that this was not the case. 



222 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

And Meanwhile Badan Chandra had struck up a friendship 

causes a ^ ^ ie Calcutta Agent of the Burmese Government, and, 
Burmese .... 

invasion, having failed in his endeavour to obtain the intervention of 

the British, he went with this man to the Court of 
Amarapura, where he was accorded an interview with the 
Burmese king. He repeated his misrepresentations regard- 
ing the conduct of the Burha Gohain, alleging that he had 
usurped the king's authority, and that owing to his mis- 
government, the lives of all, both high and low, were in 
danger. At last he obtained a promise of help. Towards the 
end of the year 1816 an army of about eight thousand men 
was despatched from Burma. It was joined en route by the 
chiefs of Mungkong, Hukong and Manipur, and, by the time 
Namrup was reached, its numbers had swollen to about sixteen 
thousand. The Burha Gohain sent an army to oppose 
the invaders, and a battle was fought at Ghiladhari in which 
the Burmese were victorious. At this juncture the Burha 
Gohain died or, as some say, committed suicide by swallow- 
ing diamonds. His death was a great blow to the Ahom 
cause. He had proved his capacity in many a battle, and the 
whole nation had confidence in him ; but his eldest son, who 
was appointed to succeed him, was untried, and there was no 
other leader of proved ability. In spite of this, it was decided 
to continue the war ; and a fresh army was hastily equipped 
and sent to resist the Burmese. Like the former one, it was 
utterly defeated, near Kathalbari, east of the Dihing. 
The Burmese continued their advance, pillaging and burning 
the villages along their line of march. The new Burha 
Gohain endeavoured in vain to induce the king to retreat 
to Lower Assam, and then, perceiving that the latter intended 
to sacrifice him, in order to conciliate the Bar Phukan and his 
Burmese allies, fled westwards to Gauhati. 

The Burmese now occupied Jorhat ; and the Bar Phukan, 
who was formally reinstated, became all powerful. He re- 
tained Chandrakant as the nominal king, but relentlessly 
set himself to plunder and slay all the relations and adherents 
of the Burha Gohain. The Burmese were paid a large 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 223 

indemnity for the trouble and expense of the expedition, and, 
in April 1817, returned to their own country, taking with 
them for the royal harem a girl who had been palmed off on 
them as a daughter of the Ahom king. 

Soon after their departure, the Bar Barua quarrelled with Fresh 
the Bar Phukan. The king's mother and some of the nobles in tngues 
sided with the former, and, at their instigation, a foreign departure 
subadar, named Rup Singh, assassinated the Bar Phukan. °f tne 
Messengers were at once sent to the Burha Gohain at Gau- 

to 

hati, informing him of the Bar Phukan's death and inviting 
him to return to Jorhat. But he was unable to forgive 
Chandrakant for having thrown him over when the Bur- 
mese invaded the country, and accordingly invited Brajanath, 
a great grandson of Raja Rajesvar Singh, who was residing 
at Silmari, to become a candidate for the throne. Brajanath 
agreed, and joined the Burha Gohain, who advanced upon 
Jorhat with a force of Hindustani mercenaries and local 
levies. Chandrakant fled to Rangpur, leaving the Deka 
Phukan in charge at Jorhat. The latter was killed, and the 
Burha Gohain entered Jorhat. This was in February 1818. 

Brajanath at once caused coins to be struck in his own p uran( j ar 
name, but it was now remembered that he was ineligible for Singh, 
the throne, as he had suffered mutilation; and his son ig)9 
Purandar Singh was therefore made king instead of him. 
Chandrakant was seized, and his right ear was slit in order 
to disqualify him from again sitting on the throne. 

The friends of the murdered Bar Phukan fled to Burma 
and informed the king of that country of the progress of 
events in Assam. A fresh force was despatched under a 
general named Ala Mingi (or Kio Mingi as Robinson calls 
him) and reached Assam in February 181 9.* The 

* This is the date given in the September, 1823, from the Supreme 

Buranjis. Wilson places Ala Government, to the Court of Direc- 

Mingi's arrival " early in 1818," tors, paragraph 91. Two coins 

but in this he is contradicted, not struck in his own name by Puran- 

only by the Buranjis, but also by dar Singh's father Brajanath also 

the narrative of events in Assam corroborate the chronology of the 

given in a Despatch dated the 12 th Buranjis. 



224 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

Ahoms opposed it at Nazira with some spirit, but, at a 

critical point in the engagement, their commander lost his 

nerve. They were defeated and beat a hasty retreat to 

Jorhat. Purandar Singh fled at once to Gauhati, and 

Chandrakant, who joined the Burmese at Jagpur, was 

formally reinstated. 

Burmese Chandrakant, however, was now only a nominal ruler, 

1819 to an( i ^ ne rea l authority was vested in the Burmese com- 

1824. manders, who set themselves to hunt down all the adherents 

of the Burha Gohain that still remained in Upper Assam. 

Amongst others they captured and put to death the Bar 

Gohain and the Bar Barua. They sent a body of troops to 

Gauhati to capture Purandar Singh, but he escaped to Sil- 

mari in the British district of Rangpur, where he more than 

once solicited the assistance of the East India Company. 

He offered to pay a tribute of three lakhs of rupees a year, 

and also to defray all the expenses of the troops that 

might be deputed to restore him to the throne of his 

ancestors. The Burha Gohain had determined to defend 

Gauhati, but the Burmese advanced in great strength, and 

his troops, fearing to face them, quietly dispersed. He 

was thus obliged to seek an asylum across the frontier. He 

proceeded to Calcutta, where he presented several memorials 

of the same purport as those already submitted by his nominal 

master. To all these applications the Governor General 

replied that the British Government waB not accustomed to 

interfere in the internal affairs of foreign states. Meanwhile 

Chandrakant and the Burmese were making repeated 

applications for the extradition of the fugitives, but to these 

requests also a deaf ear was turned. 

Chandra- The Burmese had appointed in the place of the late 

kant , Bar Barua a Kachari named Patal, but he soon incurred 

quarrels . 

with the their displeasure, whereupon they summarily put him 

Burmese. ^ d ea th, without even the pretence of obtaining the 

approval of their puppet Chandrakant. The latter became 

anxious about his own safety and, in April 1821, fled, first 

to Gauhati and then to British territory. The Burmese 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 225 

endeavoured, by professions of friendship, to induce him to 
return, but he could not be persuaded to place himself in 
their power. In revenge for his mistrust they put a great 
number of his followers to death, and he retaliated on the 
Burmese officers who had been sent to invite him back. The 
breach now became final ; another prince named Jogesvar 
was set up by the Burmese, and their grip on the country 
became firmer and firmer. 

The only part of the old A horn kingdom which escaped 
the Burmese domination was the tract between the Buri 
Dihing and the Brahmaputra, where the Moamarias, under 
the leader whom they called the Bar Senapati, maintained a 
precarious independence. 

The Burmese troops and their followers were so numerous Chandra- 
that it was found impossible to provide them with supplies K™ . 
in any one place. They were, therefore, distributed about the oust the 
country in a number of small detachments, and Chandrakant, Burmese - 
seeing his opportunity, collected some troops, regained 
possession of Gauhati, and advanced up-stream. The Bur- 
mese, warned in time, mobilized their forces in Upper A ssam, 
and then marched to meet Chandrakant. Their army was 
arranged in three divisions, one of which marched down the 
south bank and another down the north, while a third 
proceeded in boats. Chandrakant with his weak force was 
unable to resist them, and fled again to Bengal. The 
Burmese took the opportunity to reduce the Darrang Raja to 
submission, and then returned to Upper Assam, plundering 
all the villages along their line of march. This was in 
1820. 

In the following year Chandrakant collected another Fresh 
force of about two thousand men, chiefly Sikhs and Hindu- ^ tte <^f n s _ 
stanis, and again entered his old dominions. The Burmese drakfint 
garrison, which had now been considerably reduced, was * n(i 
unable to resist him, and he re-established his authority Singh, 
over the western part of the country. 

For more than a year Purandar SiDgh had been busy 
collecting a force in the Duars, which then belonged to 

Q 



226 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM, 

Bhutan, with the aid of a Mr. Robert Bruce,* who had long 
been resident at Jogighopa, and who, with the permission of 
the Company's officers, procured for him a supply of 
firearms and ammunition from Calcutta. Towards the end 
of May 1821, this force, with Mr. Bruce in command, entered 
the country from the Eastern Duars, but it was at once 
attacked and defeated by Chandrakant's levies. Mr. Bruce 
was taken prisoner, but was released on his agreeing to enter 
the victor's service. In September, Chandrakant sus- 
tained a defeat at the hands of the Burmese and retreated 
across the border. He rallied his men in the Goalpara dis- 
trict, and Mr. Bruce obtained for him three hundred muskets 
and nine maunds of ammunition from Calcutta. He 
returned to the attack and, after inflicting several defeats on 
the Burmese, reoccupied Gauhati in January 1822. 

At the same time the Burmese forces on the north bank 
of the Brahmaputra were harassed by repeated incursions on 
the part of Purandar Singh's troops, which had rallied in 
Bhutan territory after their recent defeat. The Burmese 
commander sent a long letter to the Governor General, pro- 
testing against the facilities which had been accorded to the 
A horn princes and demanding their extradition, but nothing 
came of it, beyond the temporary incarceration of the Burha 
Gohain as a punishment for intercepting and delaying the 
delivery of the letter. 

Chandrakant's success was not of long duration. In 
the spring of 1822 Mingi Maha Bandula, who afterwards 
commanded the Burmese forces in Arakan, arrived from Ava 
with large reinforcements, and in June a battle took place at 
Mahgarh. Chandrakant is said to have displayed great 
personal bravery, and for some time his troops held their own, 
but in the end their ammunition gave out and they were 
defeated with a loss of fifteen hundred men. 

* Mr. Kobert Bruce is described known to have come from England 

in a despatch to the Court of Direc- in 1809 and he himself is referred 

tors dated the 12th September to as a Major in a report by Dr. 

1823 as a native of India, but this Wallich in 1835. 
seems doubtful. His brother is 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 227 

Chandrakant escaped once more across the border. Friction 
The Burmese commander sent an insolent message to the Burmese 
British Officer commanding at Goalpara warning him that, and 
if protection were afforded to the fugitive, a Burmese army - t5ritl8n - 
of 1 8,000 men, commanded by forty Rajas, would invade the 
Company's territories and arrest him wherever he might be 
found. This demonstration was answered by the despatch 
to the frontier of additional troops from Dacca, and by the 
intimation that any advance on the part of the Burmese 
would be at their certain peril. At the same time orders 
were sent to David Scott, the Magistrate of Rangpur, that, 
should Chandrakant, or any of his party, appear in that dis- 
trict, they were to be disarmed and removed to a safe distance 
from the border. These orders do not seem to have been 
very effective, and soon afterwards the officer in charge of 
the district reported that he had been unable to ascertain 
whether Chandrakant had actually taken shelter there 
or not. His ignorance was apparently due to the corrup- 
tion of his native subordinates, who had been heavily 
bribed. Even the British Officer commanding at Goalpara 
had been offered a sum of twenty -one thousand rupees as 
an inducement to him to permit of the raising of troops in 
that district. 

Notwithstanding the warning that had been given them, Deplor- 
various small parties of Burmese crossed the Goalpara f^ 60 ?^* 
frontier and plundered and burnt several villages in the people 
Habraghat pargana. The Burmese commander disavowed ?L nder the 
these proceedings, but no redress was ever obtained for 
them. 

The oppressions of the Burmese became more and more 
unbearable, and no one could be sure of his wealth or reputa- 
tion, or even of his life. Not only did they rob everyone who 
had anything worth taking, but they wantonly burnt down 
villages, and even temples, violated the chastity of women, 
old and young alike, and put large numbers of innocent per- 
sons to death. In his Travels and Adventures in the Province 
of Assam (London, 1855) Major J. Butler says that, in revenge 

Q 2 



228 THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 

for the opposition offered to their army at Gauhati, the 
Burmese slaughtered a vast number o£ men, women and 
children. At Chotopotong :— 

Fifty men were decapitated in one day. A large build- 
ing was then erected of bamboos and grass, with 
a raised bamboo platform ; into this building were 
thrust men, children and poor innocent women with 
infants, and a large quantity of fuel having been 
placed round the building it was ignited : in a few 
minutes — it is said by witnesses of the scene now 
living— two hundred persons were consumed in the 
flames. . . . Many individuals who escaped from 
these massacres have assured me that innumerable 
horrible acts of torture and barbarity were resorted 
to on that memorable day by these inhuman 
savages. 
All who were suspected of being inimical to the reign of 
terror were seized and bound by Burmese execu- 
tioners, who cut off the lobes of the poor victims y 
ears and choice portions of the body, such as the 
points of the shoulders, and actually ate the raw flesh 
before the living sufferers : they then inhumanly 
inflicted with a sword, deep but not mortal 
gashes on the body, that the mutilated might die 
slowly, and finally closed the tragedy by disem- 
bowelling the wretched victims. Other diabolical 
acts of cruelty practised by these monsters have 
been detailed to me by persons now living with a 
minuteness which leaves no doubt of the authenti- 
city of the facts ; but they are so shocking that I 
cannot describe them. 
To make matters worse, bands of native marauders 
wandered about the country disguised as Burmese, and the 
depredations committed by them were even worse than those 
of the invaders themselves. The hill tribes followed suit, and 
the sufferings of the hapless inhabitants were unspeakable. 
Many fled to the hills, and to Jaintia, Manipur and other 



THE DECAY AND FALL OF THE AHOM KINGDOM. 229 

countries,* while others embarked on a guerilla warfare and 
set themselves to cut off stragglers and small bodies of troops. 
The chief resistance was on the north bank, where the aid of 
the Akas and Daflas was enlisted, but the Burmese appeared 
in overwhelming force and crushed out all attempts at active 
opposition. 

The Burmese at last induced Chandrakant to believe 
that they had never meant to injure him, and had only set 
up Jogesvar because he refused to obey their summons to 
return. He went back but, on reaching Jorhat, he was 
seized and placed in confinement at Rangpur. About this 
time, owing to sickness and the great scarcity of provisions, 
Mingi Maha Bandula returned to Burma with the bulk 
of his army, and a new governor was appointed to 
Assam, who soon brought about a marked improvement in 
the treatment of the inhabitants. B,apine and pillage were 
put a stop to, and no punishment was inflicted without a 
cause. Officers were again appointed to govern the country ; 
a settled administration was established, and regular taxation 
took the place of unlimited extortion. The sands, however, 
had run out ; and the Burmese were now to pay for their 
past oppressions of the hapless Assamese, and for the insults 
which they had levelled at the British authorities on this 
frontier and elsewhere, especially in the direction of Chitta- 
gong, by the loss of the dominions which they had so easily 
conquered, and of which, for the moment, they seemed to have 
obtained undisputed possession. But before narrating their 
expulsion from the Province which they had well-nigh ruined, 
it is necessary to give some account of the Ahom state 
organization, and also a brief summary of the history of the 
Kachari, Jaintia, and Manipuri kings and of the district of 
Sylhet which now forms part of Assam. 

* For the relief of the refugees Kangpur district, where they were 
in British territory a large estate provided with land for cultivation, 
was acquired at Singimari in the 



230 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

Form of The form of government amongst the Ahoms was 

m ° v ? rn " somewhat peculiar. The king was at the head of the 
administration, but he was assisted by three great councillors 
of State, called Gohains. The latter had provinces assigned to 
them, in which they exercised most of the independent rights 
o£ sovereignty, but, so far as the general administration of the 
State and its relations with other powers were concerned, their 
functions were merely advisory. They had, in this respect, 
no independent authority, but, in theory, the king was bound 
to consult them on all important matters, and was not permitted 
to issue any general orders, embark on war, or engage in 
negotiations with other states until he had done so. 
Neither was he considered to have been legally enthroned 
unless they had concurred in proclaiming him as king. The 
extent to which these rules of the constitution were observed, 
varied with the personal influence and character of the king 
on the one side, and of the great nobles, on the other. Some 
kings, such as Pratap Singh, Gadadhar Singh and Rudra 
Singh appear to have followed their own wishes without 
much regard for the opinions of their nobles, while others, like 
Sudaipha, Lara Raja andKamalesvar Singh, were mere puppets 
in the hands of one or other of the great ministers of State. 
It has been said that the Gohains had the right to depose a 
monarch of proved incapacity, but this is doubtful ; and 
although there are several cases, such as those of Surampha 
and Sutyinpha, where the Gohains took common action to eject 
unpopular rulers, there are more where their dethronement or 
assassination was the work of a single Gohain or other noble, 
acting independently, and making no pretence to legality. 
The probability is that all such acts were equally unconsti- 
tutional. 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 231 

In the early days of Ahom rule the succession devolved Rules of 
from father to son with great regularity, but in later times fo ^ 81011 
this rule was often departed from. Sometimes brothers took throne, 
precedence of sons, as in the case of the four sons of Rudra 
Singh, who each became king in turn, in conformity, it is said, 
with the death-bed injunction of that monarch. At other 
times cousins, and even more distant connections, obtained the 
throne, to the exclusion of nearer relatives, but in 3uch cases 
the circumstances were generally exceptional. Much depended 
on the wish, expressed or implied, of the previous ruler ; 
much on the personal influence of the respective candidates for 
the throne ; and much on the relations which existed between 
the chief nobles who, in theory at least, had the right to make 
the selection. 

Where the procedure was constitutional and the new king 
was nominated by the great nobles acting in unison, they 
never passed over near relatives in favour of more distant 
kinsmen, except in cases where the former were admittedly 
unqualified, or where, owing to the deposition of the previous 
king, it was thought desirable that his successor should not 
be too nearly related to him. But where one of these nobles 
obtained such a preponderance that he was able to proceed 
independently, and actually did so, the choice often depended 
more on his own private interest than on the unwritten 
law of the constitution ; and he would usually select some one 
who, from his character or personal relations, or from 
the circumstances of his elevation to the throne, might 
be expected to support him, or to allow him to arrogate 
to himself much of the power which really belonged 
to the kingly office. Thus one of the Bar Baruas raised 
to the throne in turn Suhung and Gobar, neither of whom 
was at all nearly related to the kings preceding them ; 
Sujinpha and Sudaipha owed their elevation to a Burha 
Gohain ; Sulikpha to a Bar Phukan, and so on. 

There was, however, one absolutely essential qualification; 
no one could under any circumstances ascend the throne 
unless he were a prince of the blood. The person of the 



232 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

monarch, moreover, was sacred, and any noticeable scar or 
blemish, even the scar of a carbuncle, operated as a bar to the 
succession. Hence arose the practice, often followed by Ahom 
kings, of endeavouring to secure themselves against intrigues 
and rebellions by mutilating all possible rivals. The desired 
object was usually effected by slitting the ear, but, as we 
have seen, less humane methods were also, at times, adopted, 
and many unfortunate princes were deprived of their eyesight 
or put to death. 
The cere- The ceremony of installation was a very elaborate one. 
installa°- ^ ne ^ n ^» wearing the Somdeo, or image of his tutelary 
tion. deity, and carrying in his hand the Hengdan or ancestral 

sword, proceeded on a male elephant to Charaideo, where he 
planted a pipal tree ( ficus religiosa). He next entered the 
Patghar, where the presiding priest poured a libation of 
water over him and his chief queen, after which the royal 
couple took their seats in the Holongghar, on a bamboo 
platform, under which were placed a man and a specimen of 
every procurable animal. Consecrated water was poured over 
the royal couple and fell on the animals below. Then, having 
been bathed, they entered the Singarighar and took their seats 
on a throne of gold, and the leading nobles came up and offered 
their presents. New money was coined, and gratuities were 
given to the principal officers of State and to religious men- 
dicants. In the evening, there was a splendid entertainment at 
which the king presided. During the next thirty days the 
various tributary Rajas and State officials who had not 
been present at the installation were expected to come in 
and do homage and tender their presents to the new king. 
Before the reign of Rudra Singh, it had been the custom 
for the new king, before entering the Singarighar, to 
kill a man with his ancestral sword, but that monarch 
caused a buffalo to be substituted, and the example thus 
set was followed by all his successors. 
The Just as the kingly office was the monopoly of a parti- 

Gohains. cu l ar family or clan, so also was that of each of the Gohains. 
In practice these appointments ordinarily descended from 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 233 

father to son, but the king had the right to select any 
member of the prescribed clan that he chose, and he could also, 
if he so wished, dismiss a Gohain. There were originally only 
two of these great officers, the Bar Gohain and the Burha 
Gohain, but in the reign of the Dihingiya Raja a third, the 
Barpatra Gohain, was added. The first incumbent of this 
new office was a step -brother of the king himself. To each 
of these nobles was assigned a certain number of families, 
who were amenable only to their immediate masters, and over 
whom no other officer of government was allowed to exercise 
any jurisdiction. 

According to David Scott, the Gohains had allotted for 
their own use 10,000 pdiks 01 freemen, which he assumed to 
be equivalent to a grant of Rs. 90,000 per annum. 

As the dominions of the Ahoms were gradually extended Bar 
it r was found necessary to delegate many of the king's arua ' 
duties to others, and various new appointments were created. 
The most important were those of Bar Barua and Bar Phukan, 
both of which owe their origin to Pratap Singh. The ap- 
pointments in question were not hereditary, and they could be 
filled by any member of twelve specified families. Members 
of the families from which the three great Gohains were 
respectively recruited were not eligible for these posts ; the 
object of their exclusion seems to have been to prevent the 
accumulation of too much power in the hands of a single family. 

The Bar Barua received the revenues and administered 
justice in those portions of the eastern provinces from Sadiya 
to Koliabar which lay outside the jurisdiction of the Gohains, 
and was also, usually, the commander of the forces. He had 
control over 14,000 paih, but they were also bound to render 
service to the king. His perquisites consisted of an allowance 
of seven per cent, of the number for his private use, together 
with the fines levied from them for certain offences, and 
the fees paid by persons appointed to minor offices under 
government. 

The Bar Phukan at first governed as Viceroy only the Bar 
tract between the Kallang and the Brahmaputra in Nowgong, Pk ukan - 



234 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

but, as the Ahoras extended tlieir dominions further west, his 
charge increased, until it included the whole country from 
Koliabar to Goalpara, with Gauhati as his head-quarters. His 
office was considered of higher importance than that of the 
Bar Barua and, as he was further removed from the seat of 
Government, his powers were more extended. Appeals from 
his orders were rare ; and although the monarch alone could 
cause the shedding of blood, he, like the Gohains, could sanction 
the execution of criminals by drowning. The Bar Barua did 
not possess this power. 
Other Other local governors were also appointed from time 

™ ver . to time, such as the Sadiya Khowa Gohain, who ruled 
nors. at Sadiya, and whose appointment dates from the overthrow 
of the Chutiya kingdom in 1523 ; the Morangi Khowa 
Gohain, governor of the Naga marches west of the Dhansiri ; 
the Solal Gohain who administered a great part of Nowgong 
and a portion of Charduar after the head-quarters of the Bar 
Phukan bad been transferred to Gauhati ; the Kajali Mukhia 
Gohain, who resided at Kajalimukh and commanded a thousand 
men ; the Raja of Saring, and the Raja of Tipam, or the tract 
round Jaipur on the right bank of the Buri Dihing. The two 
last-mentioned were usually relatives of the king himself. 

Elsewhere again, ruling chiefs who had made their submis- 
sion to the Ahoms were transformed into governors acting on 
their behalf. To this category belonged the Rajas of Darrang, 
Dimarua, Rani, Barduar, Naudaar and Beltola. They 
administered justice and collected the revenues in their own 
districts, but an appeal lay from their orders to the Bar 
Phukan and the monarch ; those of them who held territory in 
the hills, however, were practically independent in that 
portion of their dominions. They were required to attend on 
the king in person with their prescribed contingent of men, 
when called upon to do so, and, in addition, all except 
the Raja of Rani paid an annual tribute. Their office was 
hereditary, but they were liable to dismissal for misconduct. 
Other There were numerous other officials, who were generally 

officials. recru fted from the fifteen families that have already been men- 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 235 

tioned as possessing the monopoly of the highest appoint- 
ments, but, for such as did not involve military service, 
the higher classes of the non-Ahom natives of the country 
were eligible, and also persons of foreign descent, provided 
that their families had been domiciled in the country for 
three or four generations. 

Amongst these officers the highest in rank were the (i) Phuk- 
Phukans. Six of these, known as the Choruwa Phukan, ans ' 
formed collectively the council of the Bar Barua, but each 
had also his separate duties. To this group belonged the 
Naubaicha Phukan, who had an allotment of a thousand men, 
with which he manned the royal boats ; the Bhitarual Phukan, 
he Na Phukan, the Dihingiya Phukan, the Deka Phukan and 
the Neog Phukan. 

The Bar Phukan had a similar council of six subordinate 
Phukans, whom he was bound to consult in all matters of 
importance ; these included the Pani Phukan, who commanded 
six thousand paiks, and the Deka Phukan, who commanded 
four thousand, the Dihingia and Nek Phukans and two 
Chotiya Phukans. 

Besides the above there was the Nyay Khoda Phukan, 
who represented the sovereign in the administration of justice ; 
and a number of others of inferior grades, including the 
Parbatiya Phukan, a Brahman who managed the affairs of 
the chief queen ; the Tambuli Phukan, who had care of 
the royal gardens ; the Nausaliya Phukan who was responsible 
for the fleet ; the Choladhara Phukan, or keeper of the royal 
wardrobe; the Deoliya Phukan who looked after the Hindu 
temples ; the Jalbhari Phukan who had charge of the servants 
employed in them ; the Khargariya Phukan, or superintendent 
of the gunpowder factories, etc. 

Next in rank to the Phukans were the Baruas, of whom (ii) Bar- 
there were twenty or more, including the Bhandari Barua or uaSi 
treasurer ; the Duliya Barua, who had charge of the king's 
palanquins ; the Chaudangiya Barua, who superintended 
executions ; the Thanikar Barua, or chief of the artificers ; the 
Sonadar Barua, or mint master and chief jeweller ; the Bej 



236 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

Barua, or physician to the royal family ; the Hati Barua, 
Ghora Barua, and others, 
(iii) Ra- There were also twelve Rajkhowas, and a number of 

Katakis Katakis, Kakatis and Dalais. The first mentioned were com- 
Knkatis, manders of three thousand men and were subordinate to the Bar 
a ais * Barua. They were often employed as arbitrators to settle 
disputes, and as the superintendents of public works. The 
Katakis acted as agents for the king in his dealings with 
foreign states and with the hill tribes ; the Kakatis were 
writers, and the Dalais expounded the Jyotish Shastras and 
determined auspicious days for the commencement of impor- 
tant undertakings. 
The State With the exception of the nobles, priests and persons of 
organisa- high caste and theii slaves, the whole male population between 
the ages of fifteen and fifty were liable to render service to the 
State. They were known as paiks, or foot soldiers, a term 
which was formerly very common in Bengal, where, for 
instance, it was applied to the guards who surrounded the 
palace of the independent Muhammadan kings. The paiks 
were organised by gots. A got originally contained four 
paiks, but in the reign of Rajesvar Singh the number was 
reduced to three in Upper Assam ; one member of each got was 
obliged to be present, in rotation, for such work as might be 
required of him, and, during his absence from home, the other 
members were expected to cultivate his land and keep him 
supplied with food. In time of peace it was the custom to 
employ the paiks on public works ; and this is how the 
enormous tanks and the high embanked roads of Upper Assam 
came into existence, which are still a source of wonder to all 
who see them. When war broke out, two members of a got, 
or even three, might be called on to attend at the same time. 

The paiks were further arranged by khels, which were 
provided with a regular gradation of officers ; twenty paiks 
were commanded by a Bora, one hundred by a Saikia, one 
thousand by a Hazarika, three thousand by a Rajkhowa and 
six thousand by a Phukan ; and the whole were under as rigid 
discipline as a regular army. The paiks, however, were entitled 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 237 

to nominate, and claim the dismissal of, their Boras and 
SaikiaSj and sometimes even of their Ilazarikas. This was a 
most valuable privilege, whereby they were saved from much 
of the oppression that would otherwise have fallen to their lot. 

The Jehels were distributed amongst the high nobles in 
the manner already described, and each official had a certain 
number of paiks assigned to him in lieu of pay. As the Ahom 
kings came more and more under the influence of Hindu 
priests, large numbers of paiks were removed from their khels 
and assigned for the support of temples or of Brahmans ; some 
also purchased exemption from service. In no other way 
could a man escape from the control of the officers of his kkel, 
whose jurisdiction was personal and not local. In the course 
of time, as the members of a khel became dispersed in differ- 
ent parts of the country, this system grew most complicated 
and inconvenient, but it was still in vogue at the time of the 
British occupation, except in Kamrup where a system of 
collecting revenue according to local divisions, called parganas, 
had been introduced by the Muhammadans. 

As a reward for his services, each paik was allowed two 
puras (nearly three acres) of the best rice land free of charge* 
If personal service was not required, he paid two rupees 
instead. He was also given land for his house and garden, for 
which he paid a poll or house-tax of one rupee, except in Dar- 
rang, where a hearth-tax of the same amount was levied upon 
each party using a separate cooking-place. Anyone clearing 
land, other than the above, was allowed to hold it on the pay- 
ment of one to two rupees a pura, so long as it was not 
required, on a new census taking place, to provide the paiks 
with their proper allotments. 

In the inundated parts of the country the land was culti- 
vated chiefly by emigrating raiyats or, as they are now called, 
pam cultivators, who paid a plough tax. The hill tribes who 
grew cotton paid a hoe tax. Artisans and others who did not 
cultivate land paid a higher rate of poll tax, amounting to 
five rupees per head for gold- washers and brass-workers, and 
three rupees in the case of oil-pressers and fishermen. 



238 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

The rice lands were redistributed from time to time ; but not 
the homesteads, which descended from father to son. The only 
other lands which could be regarded as private property were 
the estates granted to the nobles and, in later times to 
temples and Brahmans, which were cultivated by slaves or ser- 
vants, or by paths attached to the estate and granted with it. 
Law and In civil matters the Hindu law, as expounded by the 

jus ice. Brahmans, seems to have been generally followed in later 
times ; at an earlier period the judge decided according to 
the custom of the country and his own standard of right 
and wrong. The joint family system was in vogue, but 
amongst all except the highest classes, the family usually 
separated on the death of the father, when the sons took 
equal shares to the exclusion of daughters. The criminal 
law was characterized by the greatest harshness; and 
mutilation, branding with hot irons, and even more terrible 
punishments were common. In the case of offences against 
the person, the general principle was that of " an eye for an 
eye and a tooth for a tooth/' and the culprit was punished 
with precisely the same injury as that inflicted by him on the 
complainant. The penalty for rebellion was various forms 
of capital punishment, such as starvation, flaying alive, impal- 
ing and hanging, of which the la9t mentioned was esteemed 
the most honourable. The death penalty was often inflicted, 
not only on the rebel himself, but on all the members of his 
family. No record was kept in criminal trials, but in civil 
cases a summary of the proceedings was drawn out and given 
to the successful party. 

The chief judicial authorities were the three Gohains, 
the Bar Barua and the Bar Phukan, in their respective 
provinces, and trials were conducted before them or their 
subordinates, each in his own jurisdiction. An appeal lay to 
them from their subordinates and, in the case of the Bar 
Barua and Bar Phukan, a second appeal could be made to the 
sovereign, which was dealt with on his behalf by the Nyay 
Khoda Phukan. The president of each court was assisted 
by a number of assessors (Katakis, Ganaks or Pandits) by 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 289 

whose opinion he was usually guided. Prior to the Moamaria 
disturbances, the administration of justice is said to have 
been speedy, efficient and impartial. 

The chief nobles cultivated their private estates with the Slavery, 
aid of slaves, i.e., persons taken in war or purchased from the 
hill tribes, and of their retainers, who were either hill men or 
manumitted slaves. These persons were entirely at their 
masters' disposal, and they were not required to render service 
to the State. Their position was thus in some ways better 
than that of the pdiks who, it is said, often took refuge on 
private estates and passed themselves off as slaves. 

The owning of slaves, however, was by no means confined 
to the nobles, and all persons of a respectable position had 
one or more of them, by whom all the drudgery of the house- 
hold and the labour of the field were performed. The wide- 
spread prevalence of the institution is shown by the fact that 
David Scott is said to have released 12,000 slaves in Kamrup 
alone. Many of these unfortunates were free-men, who had 
lost their liberty by mortgaging their persons for a loan ; or 
the descendants of such persons. They were bought and sold 
openly, the price ranging from about twenty rupees for an 
adult male of good caste to three rupees for a low-caste girl. 

The social distinctions between the aristocracy and the Social dis- 
common people and, in later times, between the higher and tinctions. 
lower castes, were rigidly enforced. None but the highest 
nobles had a right to wear shoes, or to carry an umbrella, or to 
travel in a palanquin, but the last mentioned privilege might 
be purchased for a 6um of one thousand rupees. Persons of 
humble birth who wished to wear the chadar, or shawl, were 
obliged to fold it over the left shoulder, and not over the right, 
as the upper classes did. The common people were not per- 
mitted to build houses of masonry, or with a rounded end, and 
no one but the king himself was allowed to have both ends 
of his house rounded. Musalmans, Morias, Doms and Haris 
were forbidden to wear their hair long, and members of the 
two latter communities were further distinguished by having 
a fish and a broom, respectively, tattooed on their foreheads. 



240 THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 

Explana- The tribal names of the Ahom kings usually commenced 
titles of w ^ n Sw, meaning "tiger" (cf. Singh, lion), and ended with 
Ahom phd, meaning " heaven." Thus Sukapha, " a tiger coming 
kings and £ rom j ieaven " (j C a i come) ; Sunenpha, " a beautiful tiger of 
heaven" (nen, beautiful); Supatpha, "a lace-like tiger of 
heaven " {pat, lace) ; and Sukhrungpha, "a furious tiger of 
heaven" (khrung, furious). In a few cases the final syllable 
was not phd, as in the case of Suhungmung, " the tiger of a 
renowned country", (hung, renowned and mung, country). 
The kings' Hindu names were often the Assamese equivalents 
of those given them by the Deodhais. Gadadhar Singh was 
so called because gada is the Assamese translation of the 
Ahom pat ; and Rudra Singh, because rudra in Assamese 
corresponds to khrung in Ahom. It has been suggested that the 
first syllable (Su) is the same as the Shan Chao, meaning great, 
and ought to be written Chu. This, however, does not appear 
to be the case. The word Chao also means "great" or 
" God " (Deb) in Ahom, and it is frequently used in addition 
to the regular prefix Su ; Sunenpha, for instance, is described 
as Chao Sunenpha on his coins. In this connection it may 
be mentioned that the Assamese title Svargadeb is a literal 
translation of the Ahom and Shan Chao-pha, which is also 
the origin of the Burmese term tsaubwa. The word Gohain, 
the title of the original three great officers of state, is also a 
translation of the Ahom Chao. In the first instance, the word 
was Gosain, but the Ahoms pronounced the s as h, and the 
spelling was altered accordingly. The Bar Gohain was known 
in Ahom as Chaothaolung (God-old-great), the Burha Gohain, 
as Chaophrangmung (God-wide-country) and the Barpatra 
Gohain as Chaosenglung (God-holy-great).* TheBarBarua 
was known to the Ahoms as Phukelung (man-noble-great) and 
the Bar Phukan as Phukanlung (male-origin-great). 
Origin Many attempts have been made to trace the origin of the 

aLT™ word Assam. Muhammadan historians wrote Asham, and in 
the early dates of British rule it was spelt with only one s. 

# Senglung was the name of the first Barpatra Gohain. 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 241 

According to some the word is derived from Asama meaning 
"uneven," as distinguished from Samatata, or the level 
plains of East Bengal. This however seems unlikely. The 
term nowhere occurs prior to the Ahom occupation, and in 
the Bansdbali of the Koch kings, it is applied to the Ahoms 
rather than to the country which they occupied. There is, I 
think, no doubt that the word is derived from the present 
designation of the Ahoms. At first sight, this does not carrv 
us much further. The Ahoms called themselves Tai, and it 
still remains to be explained how they came to be known by 
their present name. It has been suggested that this may be 
derived from Shan, or as the Assamese say, Syam. This word, 
however, is not used by the Assamese when speaking of the 
Ahoms, but only with reference to the people of Siam. The 
tradition of the Ahoms themselves is that the present name 
is derived from Asama, in the sense of " unequalled " or 
"peerless." They say that this was the term applied to 
them at the time of Sukapha's invasion of Assam by the 
local tribes, in token of their admiration of the way in which 
the Ahom king first conquered and then conciliated them. 
Asama, however, is a Sanskrit derivative which these rude 
Mongolian tribes would not have been acquainted with, and, 
on this account, the suggested etymology has hitherto been 
rejected. But, although we may smile at the way in which 
the word is said to have come into use, it is nevertheless very 
probable that this derivation is, after all, the right one. The 
Ahoms, as we have seen, called themselves Tai, which means 
<' glorious" (cf. the Chinese, "celestial"), and of this Asama 
is a fair Assamese equivalent, just as is Svargadeb of Chaopha 
and Gohain of Chao. The softening of the $ to h, i.e., the 
change from Asam to Aham or Ahom, has its counterpart in 
the change from Gosain to Gohain. 

It may be mentioned here that the Burmese called Assam, 
Athan or Weithali ; to the Chinese it was known as Weisali, 
and to the Manipuris, as Tekau. Van Den Broucke and other 
early European geographers called the country west of the 
Bar Nadi, Koch Hajo, and that to the east of it, Koch Asam. 

B 



242 THE KACHARIS. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE KACHARIS. 

Name, The Kacharis may perhaps be described as the aborigines, 

lSdis? 01 ' ear ^ es ^ known inhabitants, of the Brahmaputra valley. 

tribution. They are identical with the people called Mech in Groalpara 

and North Bengal. These are the names given to them 

by outsiders. In the Brahmaputra valley the Kacharis 

call themselves Bodo or Bodo fisa (sons of the Bodo). In the 

North Cachar Hills their designation for themselves is 

Dimasa, a corruption of Dima fisa or " sons of the great river." 

They were known to the Ahoms as Timisa, so that this name 

must have been in use when they were still in the Dhansiri 

valley. 

The origin of the word Kachari (the first a is short in 
Assamese and long in Bengali) is difficult to trace, but it may 
be mentioned that, according to the Limbu legend of creation 
given by Mr. Risley in the Tribes and Castes of Bengal, one 
of the two progenitors of the human race settled in the 
Khachar country, which is the name given by the Nepalese to 
the tract at the foot of the hills between the Brahmaputra 
and Kosi rivers, and there became the father of the Koch, 
Mech and Dhimal tribes. If Khachar was an early home of 
the Mech,* or the head-quarters of a powerful Mech dynasty, 
the members of the tribe in Assam may well have been called 
Khacharis or Kacharis ; the omission of the aspirate is a com- 
mon occurrence in words borrowed from Bengali or Assamese, 
However this may be, there is no doubt that the Kacharis 
have given their name to the district of Cachar. They are 
called Kacharis in many parts far removed from Cachar, and 

* They must have come originally, continuous and, at times, after a 

as we have already seen, from the strong flow, there may easily have 

north-east, but the movement been an ebb. 
westwards would not necessarily be 



THE KACHARIS. 243 

the name was in common use long before a section of the tribe 
took possession of that district. The earliest use of the word 
in their own records, with which I am acquainted, is in a 
letter of appointment by RajaKirti Chundra, dated 1658 Sak, 
in which the " Kacharir Niyam," or the practice of the 
Kacharis, is referred to. 

The Kacharis are believed to be very closely allied to the 
Koches, and also, so far at least as language is concerned, to the 
Chutiyas, Lalungs and Morans of the Brahmaputra valley, 
and to the Garos and Tipperas of the southern hills. 
Having regard to their wide distribution, and to the 
extent of country over which Bodo languages of a very 
uniform type are still current, it seems not improbable that 
at one time the major part of Assam and North-East Bengal 
formed a great Bodo kingdom, and that some, at least, 
of the Mlechchha kings mentioned in the old copper- 
plate inscriptions belonged to the Kachari or some closely 
allied tribe. 

There are no written records of Kachari rule, and Dearth of 
the traditions current amongst the people consist of little JjJJjSj! 
more than long lists of kings on the accuracy of which informa- 
it is impossible to rely. According to Fisher the Kacharis tl0D * 
of North Cachar believe that they once ruled in Kamarupa, 
and their royal family traced its descent from Rajas of that 
country, of the line of Ha-tsung-tsa. The only definite 
information regarding their past history is contained in the 
Buranjis which deal primarily with the history of the Ahoms. 
The details which they contain are, however, almost entirely 
confined to a narrative of the wars which were waged between 
the two nations. These have already been described in the 
chapters on Ahom rule, and will be referred to very briefly here. 

In the thirteenth century it would seem that the Kachari Position 
kingdom extended along the south bank of the Brahmaputra, JJgj an ^ 
from the Dikhu to the Kallang, or beyond, and included also 15th cen- 
the valley of the Dhansiri and the tract which now forms the tunes * 
North Cachar subdivision. At that time, the country further 
west, though largely inhabited by Kacharis, appears to have 

b2 



244 THE KACHARIS. 

formed part of the Hindu kingdom of Kamata. Towards the 
end of this century, it is narrated that the outlying Kachari 
settlements east of the Dikhu river withdrew before the advance 
of the Ahoms. For a hundred years, this river appears to have 
formed the boundary between the two nations, and no hostilities 
between them are recorded until 1490, when a battle was fought 
on its banks. The Ahoms were defeated and were forced to sue 
for peace. But at that time their power was rapidly growing, 
and during the next thirty years, in spite of this defeat, they 
gradually thrust the Kachari boundary back to the Dhansiri 
river. 
Wars in "When war again broke out, in 1526, the neighbourhood 

century °^ ^is river was the scene of two battles : the Kacharis were 
victorious in the first but suffered a crushing defeat in the 
second. Hostilities were renewed in 1531, and a collision 
occurred in the south of what is now the Golaghat subdivision, 
in which the Kacharis were defeated and Detcha, the brother 
of their king, was slain. The Ahoms followed up their victory 
and, ascending the Dhansiri, penetrated as far as the Kachari 
capital at Dimapur on the Dhansiri, forty-five miles south of 
Golaghat. Khunkhara, the Kachari king, became a fugitive, 
and a relative named Detsung was set up by the victors in 
his stead. 
Sack of In 1536 Detsung quarrelled with the Ahoms, who again 

Dimapur. asce nded the Dhansiri and sacked Dimapur. Detsung fled, 
but was followed, captured and put to death. After this 
invasion, the Kacharis deserted Dimapur and the valley of 
the Dhansiri, and, retreating further south, established a new 
capital at Maibong. 
Descrip- The ruins of Dimapur, which are still in existence, show 

tion of that, at that period, the Kacharis had attained a state of 
' civilization considerably in advance of that of the Ahoms. 
The use of brick for building purposes was then practically 
unknown to the Ahoms, and all their buildings were of 
timber or bamboo, with mud-plastered walls. Dimapur, on 
the other hand, was surrounded on three sides by a brick 
wall of the aggregate length of nearly two miles, while the 



ART 7m?' 





Ha 



THE KACHARIS. 245 

fourth or southern side was bounded by the Dhansiri 
river.* On the eastern side was a fine solid brick gateway 
with a pointed arch and stones pierced to receive the hinges 
of double heavy doors. It was flanked by octagonal turrets 
of solid brick and the intervening distance to the central arch- 
way was relieved by false windows of ornamental moulded 
brick-work. The curved battlement of the gateway, as 
well as the pointed arch over the entrance, points distinctly 
to the Bengali style of Muhammadan architecture. In this 
connection it will be remembered that, when the Ahom 
king- Rudra Singh determined to erect brick buildings 
at Rangpur, he called in an artisan from Bengal to direct the 
operations. The excellence of the mortar is attested by the 
fact that, although the building has evidently been shaken 
on various occasions by earthquakes, it is still in excellent 
preservation. Inside the enclosure (which has not yet been 
fully explored) are some ruins of a temple, or perhaps a market 
place, the most marked feature of which is a double row of 
carved pillars of sandstone, averaging about 12 feet in height 
and 5 feet in circumference. There are also some curious 
V-shaped pillars which are apparently memorial stones. The 
nearest point at which the sandstone for these pillars could 
have been quarried is at least ten miles distant. It seems prob- 
able that the blocks of sandstone were brought and set up in 
the rough, and then carved in situ ; otherwise they would have 
been much damaged in the process of erection. No two are 
precisely alike in the ornamentation, but all are of one general 
form, having large semi-circular tops, with concentric foliated 
carving below on the shaft. There are representations of the 
elephant, deer, dog, duck and peacock, but nowhere is there a 
human form or head. The inference seems to be that, at this 
time, the Kacharis were free from all Hindu influences. 

* This description of the ruins of will be found in Dr. T. P loch's 

DimSpur is taken mainly from that Archaeological Keport for 1902-03. 

given by Major Godwin- Austen in According to some, there was for- 

the Journal of the Asiatic Society merly a wall on the south side also, 

of Bengal for 1874, page 1. A which has now been washed away, 
more recent account of the remains 



246 THE KACHARIS. 

There are several fine tanks at Dimapur two of which are 
nearly 300 yards square. 

The first European to describe these ruins was Mr. Grange, 
who visited the locality in 1839. At that time the Kacharis 
still preserved traditions of their rule there, and attributed the 
erection of the city to " Chakradhvaj, the fourth Kachari 
king. 3 ' They ascribed its destruction to Kala Pahar, but 
admitted that they were defeated by the Ahoms about the 
same time. There are similar remains of another old city 
at Kasomari Pathar, near the Doyang river. The site of 
this city also is now covered with forest. It has not yet 
been fully explored. 
Koch We have seen that, after the destruction of Dimapur by 

invasion, the Ahoms, the Kachari kings established themselves at 
Maibong. This place is on the bank of the Mahur river. 
It was surrounded by a wall, inside of which the remains of 
several temples are still visible. Here they were soon to 
meet a fresh enemy. It is recorded in the Bansabali of 
the Darrang Rajas that the Kachari king was defeated, 
about the middle of the sixteenth century, by Silarai, the 
brother and general of the great Koch king Nar Narayan. 
There is a small colony of people in the Cachar district 
known as Dehans. These are reputed to be the descendants of 
some Koches who accompanied Silarai's army and remained 
in the country. They enjoyed special privileges in the days 
of Kachari rule, and their chief, or Senapati, was allowed to 
enter the king's courtyard in his palanquin. 
Old name The Kachari king" at that time was styled c< Lord of 
Kachari Hidimba." From this time, the name Hidimba or Hiramba 
kingdom, frequently occurs in inscriptions and other records, but there is 
no evidence of its use by the Kacharis at any earlier period. 
It has been suggested that it had long been the name of the 
Kachari kingdom, and that Dimapur is in reality a corrup- 
tion of Hidimbapur, but it seems more likely that Hidimba 
was an old name of Cachar, which the Brahmans afterwards 
connected with the Kachari dynasty, just as in the 
Brahmaputra valley they connected successive dynasties of 



THE KACHARIS. 247 

aboriginal potentates with the mythical Narak. Another 
derivation of the word Dimapur has already been given.* 

Up to 1603 A.D. nothing more is known of Kachari Acquisi- 
affairs, but it may be gathered that, during this period, the Q^hhT 
Kachari kings held the greater part of the Nowgong dis- plains, 
trict and the North Cachar Hills and gradually extended 
their rule into the plains of Cachar. The previous history of 
this tract is wrapped in oblivion, but there is a tradition that 
it was formerly included in the Tippera kingdom, and was 
presented by a king of that country to a Kachari Raja 
who had married his daughter, about three hundred years 
ago. 

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jaintia Satru- 
king Dhan Manik seized Prabhakar, the chief of Dimarua, ? am * n 
whose family owed allegiance to the Kacharis. Prabha- Jaintia. 
kar appealed to the latter, and their king, Satrudaman, 
demanded his release. Failing to obtain it, he led an army 
into the Jaintia kingdom and defeated Dhan Manik, 
who thereupon submitted and undertook to pay tribute; 
he also gave two princesses to the Kachari king and made 
over his nephew and heir-apparent, Jasa Manik, as a 
hostage. The latter was kept a prisoner at Brahmapur ; 
which was afterwards re-named Khaspur. To commemorate 
his victory, Satrudaman assumed the title Asimardan. 

Soon afterwards Dhan Manik died. Satrudaman there- War with 
upon released Jasa Manik from captivity and made him Anom8 - 
king of Jaintia, but he appears to have insisted on being 
recognized as his overlord. Jasa Manik resented this, 
but, being unable by himself to offer any effectual resist- 
ance to the Kacharis, be endeavoured to embroil them 
with the Ahom king, Pratap Singh. He offered him 
bis daughter in marriage on the condition that he should 
send to fetch her through the Kachari country. The refusal 
of Satrudaman to permit the girl to be taken through his 
dominions led, as Jasa Manik had hoped, to a war with the 



* Ante page 89, footnote. See also page 






248 THE^KACHARIS. 

Ahoms. The Kachari troops'were defeated in the first encoun- 
ter, but they subsequently surprised and destroyed the Ahom 
garrison at Raha. Satrudaman celebrated his success by 
assuming the title Pratap Narayan and changing the name 
of his capital from Maibong to Kirtipur. The Ahom king 
prepared to take his revenge, but at this juncture he heard 
rumours of an approaching Muhammadan invasion, and 
was fain to make peace. At this period the Kacharis 
were still in possession of the portion of the Nowgong 
district which lies to the south of Raha. 
Satruda- Satrudaman is the hero of a Bengali novel called 

man the Ranachandi, which is said to be based on traditions current 
Bengali in Cachar, but the book does not appear to contain any 
novel. reliable historical information. The previous ruler, his father 
Upendra Narayan, was killed, it is said, in the course 
of an invasion of Cachar by a detachment of Mir Jumlah's 
Assam expeditionary force, and Satrudaman and his affianced 
wife drove them out. As a matter of fact, Satrudaman 
must have died about forty years before the date of Mir 
Jumlah's attack on the Ahoms. 
Nar Satrudaman was succeeded by his son Nar Narayan. 

EMm^' The latter died after a very brief reign, and was followed 
Darpa and by his uncle Bhimbal or Bhim Darpa, who had acted as 
Bll'tti Commander-in-Chief during the war with the Ahoms. 
The only event recorded in his reign was a raid on some 
Ahom villages in, or near, the Dhansiri valley. He died 
in 1637 and was followed by his son Indra Ballabh. The 
latter, on his accession, sent a friendly message and presents 
to the Ahom king, but the tone of his communication gave 
offence, as being too independent, and his euvoy met with a 
very cool reception. The valley of the Dhansiri had now been 
entirely deserted by the Kacharis and had relapsed into jungle. 
Bir In 1644 Bir Darpa Narayan, who succeeded Indra 

Narayan Ballabh, re-opened communications with the Ahom king, 
but he was told that the style of his letter was unbecoming 
on the part of a protected prince. Bir Darpa took exception 
to the appellation ''protected/' but apparently withdrew 



THE KACHARIS. 249 

his objection on being promised an Ahom princess in 
marriage. His relations with the Ahoms, however, con- 
tinued to be unsatisfactory, and in 1660 he was warned 
that if he failed to send the usual envoys his country would 
be invaded. He was still on the throne in 1671, and a conch 
shell has recently been discovered with the ten avatars, or 
incarnations, of Krishna, carved on it, which bears an inscription 
to the effect that it was carved in his reign in the above year.* 

Of his immediate successors — Garurdhvaj, Makardhvaj His three 
and Udayaditya — nothing is known beyond their names and 8UCCessor8 « 
the fact that altogether they reigned for barely thirty years. 

During the last forty years of the seventeenth century Tamra- 
the Ahoms were fully occupied with Muhammadan invasions SjJ*? ■> 
and internal troubles, and had neither the time nor the by Ahoms. 
power to interfere with the Kacharis. The latter gradually 
forgot the defeats which they had formerly sustained at 
their hands, and became more and more independent. At 
last Tamradhvaj, who was ruling when Rudra Singh 
ascended the Ahom throne, boldly proclaimed his indepen- 
dence. Rudra Shigh was not the man to brook such an 
insult, and in December 1706 two armies, numbering in 
all over 70,000 men, were despatched to invade the Kachari 
country, one force marching up the bank of the Dhansiri 
and the other proceeding via Raha, and the valley of 
the Kopili. The Kacharis offered but little resistance to 
this overwhelming force, and their capital at Maibong was 
occupied without much difficulty. Tamradhvaj fled to 
Khaspur in the plains of Cachar and sent an urgent appeal 
for help to Ram Singh, Raja of Jaintia. In the mean- 
time disease had effected what the arms of the Kacharis 
had been unable to accomplish, and the Ahoms, decimated 
by fever and dysentery, after demolishing the brick fort 
at Maibong, returned to their own country. 

On hearing of this Tamradhvaj sent word to Ram Singh Made pri- 
that his aid was no longer needed, but the latter, perceiving, soner *>y 

* Proceedings, Asiatic Society of Bengal, for July 1895. 



250 THE KACHARIS. 

Jaintias as he thought, an opportunity for adding the Kachari country 
cuedibv ^° ^ s own dominions, secured Tamradhvaj's person by a 
Ahoms. stratagem and kept him a prisoner in Jaintiapur. Tamradh- 
vaj managed to send a letter to Rudra Singh, begging for 
forgiveness and imploring his assistance, and the latter, fail- 
ing to obtain his release by peaceful means, despatched two 
armies to invade the Jaintia country. Jaintiapur was occu- 
pied, and, in April 1708, Tamradhvaj was escorted via Maibong 
to Rudra Singh's camp near Bishnath. He was there received 
in a grand Darbar and, on his promising to pay tribute 
and to visit the Ahom king once a year, he was permitted to 
return to his own country. He was escorted by the Ahom 
troops as far as Demera, where he was met by a number of his 
own people. Soon after reaching Khaspur he fell seriously 
ill. Rudra Singh sent his own physicians to attend him, 
but in vain. He died in September 1708. 
Sura He was succeeded by his son Sura Darpa Narayan, a boy 

eubS °^ n * ne > w ^° was "^^lled b y some Ahom officers deputed for 
quent the purpose by Rudra Singh. In a manuscript copy of the 
° 6, Naradi Puran it is stated that this work was written by one 
Bhubanesvar Vachaspati, in the reign of Sura Darpa Narayan, 
by command of his mother Chandra Prabha, widow of 
Tamradhvaj Narayan. 

The Ahom records contain no further reference to the 
K achari kings for nearly sixty years, but an inscription on a 
rock-cut temple at Maibong sets forth that it was excavated in 
the Sak year 1433 (1721 A.D.) in the reign of Harish 
Chandra Narayan, who is described as " Lord of Hidimba "; 
and we know from a document, certifying the appointment 
of one Maniram as Vazir of Barkhola, that in 1736 the reign- 
ing monarch wa9 named Kirti Chandra Narayan. In 1765, 
when messengers calliug upon him to appear before Raja 
Rajesvar Singh were sent to Sandhikari, who was then reign- 
ing, the latter refused to receive them. The Ahom king 
thereupon sent his Bar Barua with an army to Raha. This 
had the desired effect. Sandhikari surrendered himself to the 
Bar Barua and was taken before Rajesvar, by whom he was 



THE KACHARIS. 251 

admonished ; then having tendered his apologies, he was 
permitted to return to his country. He did not reign much 
longer ; and, by 1771, he had been succeeded by Harish 
Chandra Bhupati, whose name is preserved in an inscription 
recording the erection of a palace at Khaspur in that year. 

During the convulsions that shook the Ahom kingdom in Freeh war 
the latter part of the eighteenth century, many Moamarias thorns, 
and other Ahom subjects took shelter in the territory of 
the Kachari king Krishna Chandra, chiefly in the country 
along the upper reaches of the Jamuna. In Kamalesvar's 
reign the extradition of these refugees was demanded and 
refused. This resulted in a war, which lasted from 1803 
until 1805, when a decisive defeat was inflicted on the 
Kacharis and their Moamaria allies. 

The process of Hinduization had probably already com- Raja 

menced at Maibong, at least among the royal family and the c^n?* 

court. At Khaspur it proceeded rapidly, and in 1790, the converted 

formal act of conversion took place : the raja, Krishna Chandra, . Hm( * u " 

' ism. 
and his brother, Govind Chandra, entered the body of a copper 

effigy of a cow. On emerging from it, they were proclaimed 

to be Hindus of the Kshatriya caste, and a genealogy of a 

hundred generations, reaching to Bhim, the hero of the 

Mahabharatj was composed for them by the Brahmans. 

Many of the names are purely imaginary and others are 

misplaced, while some kings, who, as we know from other 

sources, reigned in fairly recent times, are not mentioned at all. 

The list which will be found in Hunter's Statistical Account 

of Assam (Vol. II, page 403) is clearly a compound of oral 

tradition and deliberate invention, and has no historical value. 

Krishna Chandra died in 1813 and was succeeded by Gobind 

his brother Gobind Chandra. The latter soon found Chandrft ' 

himself involved in difficulties. Kohi Dan, who had been 

a table servant of the late raja, was appointed to a post 

in the northern hilly tract, where he rebelled and endeavoured 

to form an independent kingdom. Gobind Chandra 

managed to inveigle him to Dharampur, where he caused 

him to be assassinated. The rebellion was continued by 



252 THE KACHARIS. 

his son Tularam, himself a servant of the Raja who, 
thinking that his own life was in danger, fled to the 
hills and successfully resisted all attempts to reduce him. 
Manipuri Gobind Chandra was thus deprived of the northern por- 
conquest. tion of ^is dominions, but worse was to follow. In 1818 
Marjit Singh of Manipur invaded his territory in the 
plains. He called to his aid Chaurjit Singh, the exiled 
Manipuri Raja, who helped him to repel the invasion, but, 
having done so, proceeded to establish himself in Cachar. 
In the following year Marjit Singh was defeated by the 
Burmese, and again found his way to Cachar. With 
him came Gambhir Singh, another brother ; and the three 
ended by taking the whole country and forcing the lawful 
monarch to flee to Sylhet, where he invoked in vain the 
help of the British authorities. Subsequently Gambhir 
Singh quarrelled with Chaurjit Singh, and appropriated 
the whole of southern Cachar except Hailakandi, which 
remained in Marjit Singh's possession. Chaurjit Singh 
now also sought shelter in Sylhet, and tendered his interest 
in Cachar to the Biitish Government. 
Burmese Gobind Chandra, on the other hand, having failed to 

obtain redress in this direction, appealed to the Burmese, who 
promised to reinstate him ; and it was their advance on Cachar 
with this declared object which led to their first conflict with 
the British. On learning of the advance of the Burmese, 
the local officers made overtures to Gambhir Singh, but the 
latter was averse from an alliance and held secret communica- 
tion with the Burmese. "When these facts were reported to 
the British Government, the local authorities were informed 
that it was not the intention of the Government to 
accord support to any particular chief, but merely to take 
the country under its protection, so far as was necessary 
to prevent the Burmese from occupying it. It was added 
that Gambhir Singh had forfeited all claim to consideration ; 
and eventually, when the Burmese had been driven out, the 
country was restored, as will be seen further on, to the 
de jure ruler, Gobind Chandra. 



invasion. 



THE JAINTIA KINGS. 253 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE JAINTIA KINGS. 

The early history of the people of Jaintia is as obscure as 
that oE the Kacharis, but iu later times the references made 
to them in the chronicles of Ahom rule are supplemented by 
some inscriptions on coins, copper-plates and buildings.* 

The dominions of the Rajas of Jaintia included two 
entirely distinct tracts of country, namely, the Jaintia hills, 
which are inhabited by a Khasi tribe called Synteng, and the 
plains country, south of these hills and north of the Barak 
river, in the Sylhet district, now known as the Jaintia parga- 
nas, the inhabitants of which are Bengali Hindus and 
Muhammadans. The former tract was the original home of 
the dynasty. The latter was a later annexation, but it was 
this area which first bore the name of Jaintia, and which is 
mentioned in Pauranik and Tantrik literature as containing 
one of the fifty-one famous shrines sacred to Durga. 

There is practically no difference between the inhabit- Origin of 
ants of the Khasi, and those of the Jaintia, hills. They are Khasis 
both of the same physical type, and they speak the same Ian- Syntengs. 
guage — Khasi — which is remarkable as being the only surviv- 
ing dialect in India, excluding Burma, of the Mon- Khmer 
family of languages. As stated elsewhere, dialects of this 
linguistic family are believed to have been spoken by the ear- 
liest Mongolian invaders of India, and at one time they were 
probably current over a considerable area. The evidence 
of philology, therefore, suggests the hypothesis that the Khasis 
and Syntengs are a remnant of the first Mongolian overflow 
into India, who established themselves in their present 
habitat at a very remote period, and who, owing to their 
isolated position, maintained their independence, while their 
congeners in the plains below were submerged in subsequent 

* Vide my Notes on Jaintia History— J. A. S. B., 1895, Pt. I, page 242. 



254 THE JAINTIA KINGS. 

streams of immigration from the same direction. It may be 
suggested that they drifted to their present home in more 
recent times, just as the Mikirs, Kukis and other tribes have 
moved considerable distances within the short space of a hun- 
dred years, but this is very improbable. The place and river 
names in the hills they inhabit all seem to be Khasi, and 
the people themselves have no traditions of any such move- 
ment. A peculiar feature of this country is furnished by 
the curious monoliths, which the Khasis and Syntengs used 
to erect in memory of their dead. Similar monoliths are found 
amongst the Hos and Mundas in Chota Nag pur, and it may 
be that the practice of erecting them was carried thither by 
people of the same stock as the Khasis, who have now 
lost their tribal identity and become merged in other 
communities. 
Their As in the case of other rude tribes, the prevailing tendency 

probable f ^he Khasis and Syntengs was to split up into numerous 
in prehis- petty communities each under its own head. From time to 
t ? riG time some ambitious chief would conquer and absorb some of 
the adjoining communities, and the kingdom thus formed 
would continue to exist until the weakness of his successors 
gave an opportunity for the prevailing disintegrating 
tendency to assert itself, when it would again dissolve into a 
number of small independent communities. The people seem 
at one time to have been polyandrists of the matriarchal type, 
and, in the hills, property still descends through the female. 
The chief of a Khasi State is succeeded, not by his own, 
but by his sister's, son. 
Dearth of There is no record or tradition suggesting that the 
materH 1 Kh^ 8 au< ^ Syntengs ever owned allegiance to a single prince. 
When they first emerge from obscurity, we find them, so 
far as we can trace them, split up into the very same units 
that existed at the beginning of the last century. Of these 
the chief were the State of Jaintia, already described, and 
that of Khairam or Khyrim, the capital of which was at 
Nongkrem, not far from Shillong. Of the latter, as of the 
Khasi States generally, there is no historical record, and 



THE JAINTIA KINGS. 255 

the references in the annalg of other kings are scanty and 
vague. 

With the Rajas of Jaintia, however, thanks to the exten- Traditions 
sion of their dominions into the southern plains, the case is g Jaintia 
different ; and the inhabitants of the Jaintia parganas preserve 
in their traditions a list of twenty-two kings, of whom the 
seventh, Dhan Manik, is known to have been reigning at the 
close of the sixteenth century. The accuracy of the list, so 
far as this and the subsequent kings is concerned, is confirmed 
by inscriptions on coins * and copper-plates, and by references 
made to them in the chronicles of the Ahom kings. Assum- 
ing that the entries in the list relating to kings anterior to 
Dbau Manik are equally reliable, and allowing to each of 
them a reign of sixteen years, we obtain the following 
approximate dates of these earlier rulers : — 

Parbat R5y .... 1500 to 1516. 

Majha Gosain .... 1516 to 1532. 

Burha Parbat Ray . . . 1532 to 154S. 

Bar Gosain .... 1548 to 1564. 

Bijay Manik .... 1564 to 1580. 

PratapRay .... 1580 to 1596. 

Dhan Manik .... 1596 to 1612. 
As the names of these rulers are preserved, not in the 
traditions of their original subjects, the inhabitants of the 
Jaintia hills, but in those of the plains people over whom 
their rule was subsequently extended, it may be inferred 
that Parbat Ray was not the founder of the dynasty. 
It may also perhaps be conjectured that it was he who 
extended the sway of the Jaintia kings into the plains tract at 
the foot of his ancestral kingdom in the hills. His name 
Parbat Ray "the Lord of the Hills" seems to confirm 
this supposition. It may, therefore, perhaps be concluded 
that the inhabitants of the Jaintia hills already formed a 
single State in 1500 A.D., and that year may be taken 

* Unfortunately very few of posed by the Koohes when they 

the Jaintia coins hear the name overran Jaintia. A description of 

of the king in whose reign they these coins will be found in a paper 

were minted. This omission is contributed by me to the J. A. S. B. 

said to be due to a condition im- for 1895, 



256 THE JAINTIA KINGS. 

roughly as the date when they became the masters of the 
Jaintia parganas. From the fact that all the kings men- 
tioned in the above list bear Hindu names, it may further 
be inferred that, at this time, they had already been 
brought, to some extent at least, under the influence of the 
Brahmans. 

There is a tradition, which may or may not be founded on 
fact, that, prior to its conquest by these hillmen, the Jaintia 
parganas were ruled by a line of Brahman kings, of whom 
the last four were Kedaresvar Ray, Dhanesvar Ray, Kandarpa 
Ray and Jayanta Bay. 
Defeat of The first reference to the inhabitants of the Khasi and 

Jamtias j am ti a hills in the records of other States occurs about the 

by Koches 

in six- middle of the sixteenth century in the annals of the Koch 

teenth j^g, £j ar Narayan. At that time, as later, the two most 
prominent chiefs seem to have been the Rajas of Jaintia and 
Khairam. The former is alleged to have been defeated and 
slain by Nar Narayan's brother, Silarai ; and his son, after 
acknowledging himself a tributary, was set up in his place. 
Profiting by his example, the chief of Khairam, it is said, 
hastened to make his submission, and undertook to pay an 
annual tribute of a considerable amount. From his name, 
Virjya Vanta, it may be assumed that he also was more or 
less under the influence of Brahman priests. 

The name of the Jaintia king who was defeated by 
Silarai is not mentioned, but, from the date of the occurrence, 
it would seem to have been Bar Gosain or Bijay Manik. 
The Rajmala, or Chronicles of the Kings of Tippera, con- 
tains a vague reference to an alleged invasion of Jaintia 
by the Tippera king Braja Manik about the same time as 
that of the Koches under Silarai. 
Jaintias At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jaintia 

defeated ki ng . j) n an Manik seized Prabhakar, the chief of Dimarua, 
Kachsris. whose family had formerly been vassals of the Kacharis. He 
appealed to the Kachari Raja, who demanded his release 
and, meeting with a refusal, invaded Dhan Manik's kingdom, 
routed his army, and compelled him to sue for peace. He 



THE JAINTIA KINGS. 257 

acknowledged himself a tributary of the Kachari monarch 
and gave him two princesses in marriage ; he also made over 
his nephew and heir-apparent as a hostage. 

Soon afterwards Dhan Manik died, whereupon the Kachari 
king released Jasa Manik and installed him as king at 
Jaintiapur. 

Subsequently, with a view to embroil the Kacharis with The 
the Ahoms, Jasa Manik sent messengers to the Ahom king Ahoms 
Pratap Singh, offering him one of his daughters in marriage entangled 
on the condition that he should send to fetch her through in the , 
the Kachari country. The refusal of the Kacharis to permit 
this had the anticipated result, and in 1618 A.D. war broke 
out between them and the Ahoms. 

There is a tradition that Jasa Manik went to Koch Bihar Marriage 
and married a daughter of Lakshmi Narayan, the ruler of Koch* 
the western Koch kingdom, who died in 1632. It is said Princess, 
that he brought back with him the image of Jaintesvari, 
which was thenceforth worshipped with great assiduity at 
Jaintiapur.* 

Jasa Manik was succeeded in turn by Sundar Ray, Chota Jaintia 
Parbat Ray and Jasamanta Ray. The last-mentioned ruler fronTie^ 
was a contemporary of the Ahom king Nariya Raja, who in to 1647. 
1647 sent envoys to him to open friendly relations. The 
occasion may possibly have been his accession to the throne, in 
which case we may fix the dates of the previous rulers tenta- 
tively as follows : — 

Jasa Manik . . . 1612-1625. 

Sundar Ray . , . 1625-1636. 

Chota Parbat Ray • » 1636-1647. 

The friendly intercourse with the Ahoms did not last long. pj^ 
A subject of the latter power, who had been granted permis- from 
sion to go to the Jaintia frontier for trading purposes, was JgiJ 
seized under Jasamanta's orders, for some reason which has 
not been recorded. He was subsequently released, on the 

* This image is known to have the Ahom conquest in 1708, ante 
been in Jaintiapur at the time of page 172. 

s 



258 THE JAINT1A KINGS. 

representation of the Ahom king, but his property was not 
given up, and this led to reprisals. The passes were closed ; 
some Jaintia traders at Sonapur were made prisoners, and 
nine years elapsed before the quarrel was at last amicably 
settled. 

In 1658 Jasamanta's grandson Pramata Ray rebelled 
against him, but was unsuccessful. The next Jaintia king 
was Ban Singh, who is said to have paid a visit to the Ahom 
monarch, Chakradhvaj Singh, to congratulate him on his 
accession to the throne in 3663.* 

Of the next ruler of Jaintia, Pratap Singh, nothing is 
known. His successor Laksbmi Narayan built a palace at 
Jaintiapur. The ruins of this palace still exist. There is an 
inscription on the gateway in which its erection by Lakshmi 
Narayan is set forth ; it bears an indistinct date which has 
been read as 1632 Sak, equivalent to 1710 A.D., but as 
Ram Singh was ruling in 1707 there must be some mistake ; 
the correct reading is perhaps 1602 Sak or 1680 AJ). 

The following additions may now be made to the conjec- 
tural chronology of the Jaintia kings : — 

Jasamanta Ray . . . 1647-1660. 

Ban Singh . . . 1660-1669. 

Pratap Singh . . . 1669-1678. 

Lakshmi Narayan . . 1678-1694. 

Ram Lakshmi Narayan was followed by Ram Singh who 

Singh. reigned until 1708 A. D. He came into 'collision, both with 

the Kacharis and with the Ahoms, and a full account of the 

operations is given in one of the Ahom Bnranjis. 

Ahom ^ n 1^07 the Ahom king Rudra Singh invaded the domi- 

inva^on nions of the Kachari king Tamradhvaj. The latter invoked 

j* • t - the aid of Ram Singh, who collected an army and was 

preparing to march to his assistance when the Ahom army 

withdrew and Tamradhvaj sent word to say that help was 

no longer needed. Ram Singh now determined to turn the 

* The name is given as Ramai discrepancy may easily be due to a 
in the Ahom Buranjis, hut the clerical error in the latter, 



THE JAINT1A KINGS. 259 

situation to his own advantage and obtain possession of his 
neighbour's country. With this object he lured him into 
his power and carried him off to Jaintiapur. Tamradhvaj 
was kept a close prisoner for some months, but at last he 
managed to send a letter invoking the aid of Rudra 
Singh. The latter wrote to his captor demanding his release 
and, failing to obtain it, despatched two armies to invade 
the Jaintia dominions. One army under the Bar Barua 
went through the Kachari country to Khaspur and entered 
the Jaintia parganas from the east, while the other, under 
the Bar Phukan, starting from Jagi, marched over the 
Jaintia hills direct to Jaintiapur. 

The force proceeding via Khaspur was the first to arrive. 
Ram Singh had contemplated resistance, but was deterred 
on seeing the strength of the Ahom army, and prepared for 
flight. His nobles, however, who had all along opposed his 
policy in regard to the Kachari king, would not permit him 
to escape and leave them to bear the brunt of the invasion ; 
and they insisted on his surrendering himself to the Ahom 
general. The other Ahom army, under the Bar Phukan, after 
meeting with and overcoming a determined resistance, at 
a place some twenty miles within the hills, advanced steadily, 
and joined hands with the Bar Barua at Jaintiapur, leaving 
garrisons in eight fortified positions along the line of march. 

So far the expedition had been a complete success, but the 
Ahoms had not hitherto done anything to stir up the people 
against them. They now proclaimed the annexation of the 
country. This was the signal for a general rising of the 
Syntengs, whose opposition had been only lukewarm so long 
as it had been merely a question of upholding their Raja 
in a policy of which they did not approve, but who were 
ready to fight to the last against an attempt to subvert their 
cherished independence. The details of the operations have 
already been given in the history of Ahom rule* and it will 
sufiice here to say that the hillmen at least succeeded in 

* Ante paere 172. 

s2 



260 THE JAINTIA KINGS. 

getting rid of the invaders. Their Raja, however, was taken 
a prisoner to Rudra Singh's camp, where he died of dysentery 
in 1708. 
Jay The heir-apparent Jay Narayan, who was also a captive, 

Narayan. g ave two of his sisters in marriage to Rudra Singh. He 
was eventually released and returned to his own country. He 
appears to have ruled from 1708, when he succeeded his 
father, to 1731, which is the date on the coins of his 
successor Bar Gosain. 
Bar Bar Gosain enjoyed an unusually long reign of nearly 40 

Gosain. y earg . He abdicated in 1770, in favour of Chattra Singh, and 
became a Sannydn or religious mendicant. These facts are 
set forth in an inscription on a copper-plate recording the 
grant of certain lands to a Brahman. The prime minister 
and commander-in-chief are cited as witnesses to the grant ; 
and, from their names, it would appear that, while the latter 
was a Hindu, the former was a Synteng who still adhered 
to the tribal beliefs of his forefathers. The grant is stated 
to have been made with the consent of the Raja's nephews 
and nieces, so that inheritance through the female may be 
presumed to have been still the custom in the Jaintia royal 
family. 

There is a tradition that Bar Gosain and his sister Gauri 

Kuari were taken captive by the Siem, or chief, of Khairam, 

but escaped by the aid of men sent by Amar Singh, the Siem 

of Cherrapunji. Two villages in the Jaintia parganas are 

still held rent-free by the chief of the latter State, and it is 

said that they were given to Amar Singh as a reward for his 

services on this occasion. The feud between Jaintia and 

Khairam seems to have been of long standing ; and it still 

existed at the time of the annexation or! Jaintia in 1835. 

Chattra Chattra Singh, who, as we have already seen, succeeded 

Singh and Bar Gosain in 1770, had ceased to rule before 1788. In a 

N""ravan copper-plate inscription which bears that date, it is stated 

that Bijay Narayan was then king. In 1774 Jaintia is 

said to have been conquered by a British force under a 

Major Henniker, but it was restored on payment of a fine. 



THE JAINTIA KINGS. 261 

No record is forthcoming of the causes which led to this expedi- 
tion, but probably it was undertaken as a punishment for 
some act of aggression against the inhabitants of the 
adjacent plains of Sylhet. 

A coin of a second Raja bearing the name of Ram Singh Ram 
is dated 1790, and we may perhaps assume that this king m S hl I' 
succeeded Chattra Singh in that year. Copper-plate inscrip- 
tions testify that he was still reigning in 1813. According 
to Pemberton he died in 1832. 

In 1824, when the Burmese were threatening an invasion, 
David Scott opened negotiations with this prince, but he was 
reluctant to compromise his independence by any engagements 
so long as this could be avoided. A letter was addressed by 
the British Political Officer to the Burmese forbidding them 
to enter Jaintia territory. They ignored this letter and called 
on the Raja to come in and make his submission, on the 
ground that he was a vassal of the Ahom kings to whose 
position they had succeeded. A party of Burmese soon 
afterwards appeared near the Jaintia frontier, but they with- 
drew on the arrival of a small British detachment to reinforce 
the Raja's troops. The subsequent events will be described 
in the general narrative of the Burmese war. 

The above account, fragmentary as it is, represents all Hinduism 
that has yet been ascertained of the history of Jaintia. As j am t| a 
regards the religion of the people, it would seem that the kings. 
Syntengs were never much influenced by the Brahmans, and 
that it was only the families of the Raja and of his leading 
nobles that were brought partially within the fold of 
Hinduism. The Rajas belonged to the Sakta sect and, 
however lax they may have been in obeying the prescribed 
restrictions in the matter of food and drink, they were very 
particular in the observance of the ghastly system of human 
sacrifices laid down in the Kalika Puran, There is a spot 
in the Faljur pargana, where Sati's left thigh is said to have 
fallen, and here human victims were immolated yearly on the 
ninth day of the Durga Puja. Similar sacrifices were also 
offered on special occasions, such as the birth of a son in the 



262 THE JA1NTIA KINGS. 

royal family, or the fulfilment of some request made to the 
gods. Frequently the victims were self-chosen, in which 
case, for some time previous to the sacrifice, they enjoyed the 
privilege of doing whatever they pleased without let or 
hindrance. Sometimes, however, the supply of voluutary 
victims ran short, and then strangers were kidnapped from 
foreign territory. 



MANIPUR. 263 



CHAPTER XII. 

MANIPUR. 
The State of Manipur, consisting 1 , as it does, of a small Early 
but most fertile valley, isolated from the neighbouring a ^° ry 
kingdoms by an encircling zone of mountainous country legends, 
inhabited by wild and warlike tribes, has long had an inde- 
pendent existence. It was known to the Shans as Ka-se and 
to the Burmese as Ka-the, a corruption of the same word ; 
the Ahoms called it Mekheli, and the Kacharis Magli, while 
the old Assamese name for it is Moglau. The Manipuris 
proper are regarded by Pemberton as " the descendants 
of a Tartar colony which emigrated from the north- 
west borders of China during the sanguinary conflicts for 
supremacy which took place between the different members 
of the Chinese and Tartar dynasties in the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries." Their features clearly show that they 
belong to the Mongolian stock, and their language is closely 
allied to those of the Kuki tribes which border them on the 
south. They have records which purport to carry back their 
history to the thirtieth year of the Christian era. Between 
that date and 1714, however, only forty-seven kings are 
enumerated. This would give to each king a reign of nearly 
36 years. Moreover, in the whole period, only one important 
event is mentioned, viz., the conquest of Khumbat in 
1475 A.D., by the united forces of Pong and Manipur, 
and the annexation of the Kubo valley to the latter country. 
It is clear that the account of this period is merely legen- 
dary. It must have been compiled at a comparatively recent 
time by the State chroniclers on no better basis than their own 
imagination and the fugitive memory of an illiterate people. 

But from 1714 onwards the narrative is fairly continuous, Gharib 
and many of the events detailed in it are proved to have Nawaz 
occurred by the independent records maintained by the kings p()wer 
of Ava. Tbe year in quest icn was marked by the accession in 1714. 



264 MANIPUR. 

of Pamheiba, who is reputed to have been a Naga chief, 
and who subsequently became a convert to Hinduism, tak- 
ing the Hindu name of Gharib Nawaz. His people followed 
his example ; and since that date they have been conspicuous 
for the rigidity with which they observe the rules of caste 
and of ceremonial purity. They pretend to be Kshatriyas, 
and are supported in their claim by the degraded Brahmans 
who serve them, and who, after giving the State its present 
name and identifying it with the Manipur mentioned in 
the Mahal har at >* have invented a legend that the people 
are descended from the hero Arjun by a Naga woman, with 
whom he cohabited during his alleged sojourn in this 
neighbourhood. 

But, whatever his ancestry, Gharib Nawaz proved him- 
self an exceedingly able king ahd a most successful leader ; 
and, under his energetic guidance, the Manipuris emerged 
from the obscurity in which they had lain for centuries. 
Between the years 1725 and 1749 he waged a series of 
successful wars against the Burmese, and captured many of 
their most important towns. He might even have taken 
Ava itself, but for the fall of his standard in a gale, which 
so alarmed his superstitious mind that he hastily patched 
up a peace and retreated. His son, Ugat Shah, alias Kakilal 
Thaba, took advantage of this fiasco to sow discontent 
amongst his followers. Gharib Nawaz was compelled to go 
into exile, and was soon afterwards murdered at his son's 
instigation. This was the beginning of a series of what 
Mackenzie justly describes as internal wars " of the most 
savage and revolting type, in which sons murdered fathers 
and brothers murdered brothers, without a single trait of 
heroism to relieve the dark scene of blood and treachery/' 



* It has already been mentioned kingdom of Upper Assam was 

that the people of Java have also called Vidarbha. Cambodia also 

adapted the Mahdbhdrat to their gets its name from a place in 

own history and assigned local Upper India. 
sites for the principal scenes. In 
the same way the Chutiya 



MANIPUR. 265 

The inevitable result supervened, and the power of Mani- First 

Burm 
invasions. 



pur, which Gharib Nawaz had raised so high, speedily 



collapsed. In 1755, and again in 1758, the country was 
over-run by the Burmese, and part of it was permanently 
annexed by them. In 1762, a treaty was negotiated by 
Jai Singh, the Manipuri king, with the British Government, 
whereby the latter undertook to assist in the recovery of the 
lost provinces ; and in January 1763 a contingent of British 
troops, under Mr. Verelst, left Chittagong. They reached 
Khaspur, near Badarpur, in April, but suffered so much from 
the continuous rain and from disease that they fell back to 
Jaynagar, on the left bank of the Barak, whence they were 
eventually recalled to Bengal. Later on, a letter was received 
from Jai Singh stating that he had no money, as all had 
been carried off by the Burmese, but offering to defray in the 
produce of the country* the expenses of any British troops 
that might be employed in his service. For some reason, not 
apparent, the British seem, at this stage, to have broken off 
the negotiations. 

A fresh invasion by the Burmese took place in 1765 and Jai 
Jai Singh, who, in the interval, had lost and regained the Sm & n 8 
regal power, was defeated and forced to flee to Cachar. He with the 
returned as soon as the invaders left. He displaced with ease Burmese, 
the man whom the Burmese had raised to the throne, but they 
promptly came back and defeated him near Langthabal. 
He again became a fugitive, but, having obtained help from 
the Ahomking, Rajesvar Singh, as already narrated, by 1768 
he was once more seated on the throne. 

His troubles were not yet over. During the next fourteen 
years he was driven no less than four times into exile, but 
at last he seems to have made his peace with the Burmese ; 
and from 1782 till the end of his reign, he was left in 

* In this letter we find the thread and elephants' tusks, Ks. 20 

following list of prices : — silk per maund ; camphor, Rs. 80 per 

Rs. 5 per seer ; iron, Rs. 5 per maund ; Manipuri cloths, Re. 1-8-0 

maund ; cotton and wood oil, each, and Manipuri " gold rupees," 

Re. 1-8-0 per maund ; wax, Rs. 12 each. 



266 MANIPUR. 

undisturbed possession of his devasted country. It quickly 
recovered from the troubles which it had undergone and, in 
1792, we find Jai Singh marching to the aid of the Ahom 
king Gaurinath with five hundred horse and four thousand 
foot. This expedition, as noted elsewhere, was by no means 
a success. 
Internal I n 1799 Jai Singh died, in the course of a pilgrimage, 

after Jai at Bhagwangola, on the bank of the Padma, after a long 
Singh's and chequered reign of nearly forty years. H is eldest son, 
Harsha Chandra, succeeded him, but was murdered, after 
a reign of two years, by the brother of one of his father's 
wives. Jai Singh's second son, Madhu Chandra, who 
followed him, shared the same fate five years later. A third 
son, Chaurjit Singh, ascended the vacant throne, and the 
fourth, Marjit Singh, thereupon engaged in a series of 
abortive conspiracies. He at last induced the king of Ava 
to espouse his cause, and was installed by him as Raja in 
1812. He put to death most of his brother's adherents and 
all likely candidates to the throne. In 1818, he invaded 
Cachar with a large force. It is said that he would have 
conquered that country with ease, had not the Raja, Gobind 
Chandra, after soliciting in vain the intervention of the 
British Government, invoked the aid of Chaurjit Singh, who 
was at that time living in Jaintia. The latter at once came 
to his assistance. 
Manipuvi Marjit, afraid of his brother's influence with his soldiers, 
establish promptly retreated to Manipur, while Chaurjit Singh estab- 
them- lished himself in the south of Cachar, which Gobind Chandra 
Cachai- 111 * s sa *°- ^° ^ ave P rom i se d him as a reward for his services, 
and In the following year, Marjit himself got into trouble with 

occivpy 86 ^ e Burmese, who again invaded his unhappy country and 
Manipur. drove him to Cachar. He now became reconciled to his 
brother Chaurjit, and helped him to turn out Gobind Chandra, 
who fled to British territory. In 1823 their nephew 
Pitambar Singh led a force into Manipur and, dispossessing 
a man named Shubol who had been installed by the Burmese, 
proclaimed himself king. Chaurjit' s brother, Gambhir 



MANIPUR. 267 

Singh, thereupon marched against him with a small force 
and defeated him. He fled to Ava, but the country was by 
this time so utterly exhausted that Gambhir Singh was 
unable to maintain his troops there and was obliged 
to return to Cachar. A quarrel between him and Chaurjit 
caused the latter to retire to Sylhet, where he tendered his 
interest in Cachar to the East India Company. Meanwhile 
Gambhir Singh possessed himself of the whole of south 
Cachar, except Hailakandi which was held by Marjit. 

At this stage, the Burmese, who had returned to Manipur The 
and were also in possession of the Brahmaputra valley, British 
threatened to annex Cachar. This was prevented by the 
British, as will be narrated in Chapter XIV. Gobind 
Chandra was restored by the British to the throne of Cachar, 
and Gambhir Singh was helped to recover possession of Mani- 
pur and also of the Kubo Valley. His position as Raja was 
confirmed by the treaty of Yandabo, which was executed 
between the British and the Burmese in 1826. 



268 SYLHET. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

SYLHET. 
Prehis- The ancient history of Sylhet is even more obscure than 

tonc 1 that of the valley of the Brahmaputra. It is scarcely 
tions. mentioned in the old legends, but from the circumstance 
that Bodo speaking tribes are found both north and south 
of it, it may be conjectured that in early times it was 
inhabited by people of the same stock and was ruled by 
Bodo kings. The old name for North Sylhet was Gaur 
or Gor, which may possibly have some connection with 
the tribe now known as Garo. The same word perhaps 
survives in the u Goarar Jangal/' the name of two old 
embankments which run from the Ghogra to a former bed 
of the Barak river in the Rajnagar pargana of Cachar. 
The more westerly of these embankments is in places a 
hundred feet broad at the base and ten feet in height, and 
there is a buried brick wall 140 feet long by six feet broad. 
There is a tradition that they were erected by some invaders 
called Goars. 

There is some reason for supposing that, at one time, 
Sylhet was under the sway of the kings of Kamarupa. At 
a later period it seems to have formed part of the dominions 
of the Sen Kings of Bengal : the influence of Ballal Sen, 
a contemporary of William the Conqueror, on its caste 
system is so great that it can only be accounted for on the 
assumption that he exercised sovereign powers there. The 
southern portion, at least, was at times under Tippera rule. 
The inscriptions on two old copper-plates recording the grant of 
land to Brahmans set forth that they were prepared respectively 
under the orders of Dharmapha and Sudharmapha, who 
are described as "kings of the mountains of Tippera." 
These kings were the eighth and ninth rulers of Tippera accord- 
ing to the local Bdjmdla, of which an analysis has been given 



SYLHET. 269 

by the Rev. J. Long,* but the period when they lived cannot 
now be ascertained. The lands granted by these kings 
were situated, in the former case, between the Kusiara, Barak 
and Haskala rivers, and, iu the latter, along both banks of the 
Manu. 

Two copper-plates that were found in the foundations of Copper- 
a ruined building on a hillock near Bhatarabazar, which frS^ 
is reputed locally to have been the palace of Raja Gaurgobind, p e b and 
have been deciphered by the late Rajendralala Mittra.t **i 8 son - 
They record grants of land by Gobind alias Keshab Deb and 
his son Ishan Deb, whose genealogy is as follows : — 

(i) Nabagirvan alias Khar avail. 

(ii) Gokul. 

(iii) Narayan. 

(iv) Gobind alias Keshab Deb. 

(v) Ishan Deb. 

The date on Ishan Deb's inscription gives only his 
regnal year. That on Gobind Deb's is doubtful. It has been 
assumed to refer to the Kali Yuga, and the decipherer of the 
plates read it as the equivalent of 1245 A.D. The first two 
figures however are very indistinct, and he seems to have 
been influenced by the supposed necessity of accommodating 
the date to the legendary date of Shah Jalal's invasion, 
which will shortly be referred to. Both plates record grants 
of land, Gobind Deb's for the upkeep of a temple of Siva, 
and Ishan Deb's for that of a temple of Vishnu. The 
measurement in both cases is given in hdls. A hal is equal 
to four and four-fifths acres, and it is still the best known 
unit of measurement in some parts of the Surma valley. 

The prime minister of Ishan Deb was a Baidya, and the 
writer of his inscription was a Das or Kaibartta. Rajendra- 
lala Mittra says that these kings were sovereigns of Cachar, 
and that they professed to be of the dynasty of Ghatotkacha, 
son of Bhim, one of the Pandu princes, by Hidimba, the 
daughter of an aboriginal cannibal chief. The Kachari 

* Journal of the Asiatic Society f Proceedings of the Asiatic 

of Bengal, Vol. XIX, page 533. Society of Bengal for 1880. 



270 SYLHET. 

kings claimed a similar descent, and it may therefore be 
surmised that the same genealogy did duty for successive 
converts to Hinduism amongst the ruling chiefs of the 
Surma valley just as did that of Narak and Bhagdatta 
for those in the valley of the Brahmaputra. 
The The conquest of Sylhet by the Muhammadans is ascribed 

Muham- by tradition to Shah Jalal of Yaman.* The legend is well 
madan known, but it contains scarcely any historical facts. The 
Saint is said to have died in 1189 A.D. If so, and if he led 
the Muhammadan invaders, the conquest must have taken 
place before that date. This, however, is impossible. At 
that time Laksbman Sen was still reigning at Nabadvip, and 
the Muhammadans had not yet entered Bengal. They did 
not take possession of East Bengal till more than a hundred 
years later. The king of Bengal for whom the country 
was conquered is said to be Sikandar Shah, who ascended 
the throne in 1358 A.D., and local legends assign the 
conquest to the year 1384. It may, perhaps, be assumed 
that the greater part of Sylhet fell into the hands of the 
Muhammadans during the latter half of the fourteenth 
century. 

The name of the conquered Hindu king is given in the 
Shah Jalal legend as Gaur Gobind, Gaur or Gor being, it is 
alleged, the name of his capital, as it was also of the country. 
If so, he can be identified with the Gobind Deb of the 
copper-plates mentioned above, wlio is known to have been 
succeeded on the throne by his son Ishan Deb, only if we 
assume that the conquest was incomplete, and that, while 
one part of his dominions passed under Muslim rule, the 
other part remained independent, at least for some years. 

The oldest historical record is an inscription on a stone 
inside the famous shrine of Shah Jalal at Sylhet. This 

* The short account of Shah Haldar. The original Persian text 

Jalal given by Dr. Wise in the was published in Calcutta in 1894, 

Journal of the Asiatic Society of and a metrical translation into 

Bengal for 1873, p. 278, seems to Musalmani Bengali by Ilahi Baksh 

be based on the Suhail-i-Yaman was printed in the Bengali year 

compiled in 1860 by Nasiruddin 1278. 



SYLHEr. 271 

was prepared in the time of Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah, who 
ruled in Bengal from 1474 to 1481, but unfortunately only 
part of it is decipherable in its present position. 

Whenever it took place, the original conquest did not Subjuga- 
extend to Laur or to Jaintia. The Rajas of these tracts g. f 
continued to rule north of the Surma, while in the south the Laur. 
Tipperas probably held a considerable area.* The Raja of 
Jaintia was still unsubdued at the time of the British conquest. 
The small State of Laur remained independent until, in Akbar's 
time, the Mughals became masters of Bengal, when the Raja 
made his submission to the Emperor. He undertook to pro- 
tect the frontier from the incursions of the hill tribes, but he 
was not required to pay anything in the nature of tribute or 
revenue. In Aurangzeb's reign, the Raja, whose name was 
Gobind, was summoned to Delhi, and there became a Muham- 
madan. His grandson removed his residence to Baniyachang 
in the open plain, and an assessment was gradually imposed 
on the family estates. 

The relations between the Muhammadans and the Tipperas Expulsion 
are very obscure. Various collisions are mentioned in the °f -"P* 
Bajmala, and several victories are claimed by the Tippera f rom the 
kings as well as occasional conquests of Sylhet, but, in the plains, 
end, the Muhammadans extended their rule over the whole 
of the plains and the Tippera Raja was compelled to pay 
revenue on his estates there. 

The Governor of Sylhet in the days of the independent Rulers of 
kings of Bengal held the rank of Nawab. Under the s y^ net 
Mughals, Sylhet was go verned by an Amil. This official Mughals. 
was subordinate to the Nawab of Dacca, but he was himself 
known locally as Nawab. The Amils seem to have been 
constantly changed, and the names of about forty of them can 
still be gathered from their seals. One of the best was Fasad 
Khan, who held office at the end of the seventeenth century 
and constructed numerous roads and bridges. An inscription on 

• In the Ain-i-Aklari Jaintia Sylhet, hut this does not necessarily 
and Laur are mentioned amongst mean that they actually formed 
the eight mahals of the sarkar of part of Akbar's dominions. 



272 SYLHET. 

a bridge, which still bears his name, records its construction 
by him in 1085 A.H. or 1673 A.D. 

In early times the Sylhet district supplied India with 
eunuchs, but Jahangir issued an edict forbidding its inhabi- 
tants to castrate boys. 
The state Sylhet passed into the hands of the British in 1765, 
of affairs £ g e ther with the rest of Bengal. Thirteen years later, a 
early days Mr. Robert Lindsay became Collector, after he had been only 
of British £ w0 years in the country, by means of an intrigue in the Dacca 
Council, which was at that time in charge of Sylhet ; and his 
vivacious account of its condition at that time is reproduced in 
the Lives of the Lindsays.* At that time there was little 
silver or copper in circulation, and the revenue of the district, 
amounting to Rs. 250,000, was all paid in cowries, or small 
shells, of which 5,120 went to the rupee. The management 
of this ponderous currency was most troublesome ; and its 
storage and transport to Dacca, where the cowries were sold 
by auction, " occasioned a cost of no less than ten per cent, 
exclusive of depredations on the passage down." In those 
days the Company's servants were allowed to trade on their 
own account. Mr. Lindsay soon made a fortune by dealing 
in lime, while he, at the same time, relieved the officials at 
Dacca of the vexatious business of disposing of a cargo of 
1,280 millions of cowries. He obtained the lease of the lime 
quarries in the hills below Cherrapunji from the Khasi chiefs 
who owned them, used the cowries to meet the charges for 
extracting and burning the stone, and paid his revenue at 
Dacca in rupees realized from the sale of the lime in the 
markets of Bengal. 

Mr. Lindsay experimented with the cultivation of indigo 
and the silk worm, but he was not very successful, owing to 
the heavy floods. He also grew some coffee, but did not perse- 
vere in its cultivation. He imported a quantity of wheat and 
distributed it amongst a number of the zamindars, but 
they did not attempt to plant it out. The crops in his time 

* Vol. Ill pp. 163, seq. 



SYLHET. 278 

were generally good ; in 1781, however, there was an excep- 
tionally heavy flood which swept away the granaries and 
reduced the people to such straits that one-third are said to 
have died of starvation. 

The military force at first consisted of about a hundred up- 
country sepoys, but the climate was prejudicial to their health 
and the mortality amongst them was very heavy. Mr. 
Lindsay accordingly obtained sanction to replace them by a 
locally recruited Militia corps, which he accompanied himself 
whenever any difficult task had to be performed. On one 
occasion, during the Muharram, the Muhammadans in Sylhet 
rose and set fire to the town in several places. Only fifty of 
the Militia were on the spot, but with these Mr. Lindsay 
marched to the place where the crowd had collected and dis- 
persed it, killing the ringleader, who attacked him with a 
sword, by a shot from his own pistol, 



274 



THE BURMESE WAR. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



The 

Burmese 
fall foul 
of the 
British. 



Opera- 
tions in 
Cachar. 



THE BURMESE WAR. 

It is impossible to say what would have been the ultimate 
fate of the unhappy Assamese, had they been left unaided to 
the tender mercies of the Burmese. The latter, however, 
soon embroiled themselves with the British, for whom they 
had conceived the greatest contempt. This feeling seems to 
have been engendered partly by their own easy victories in 
other directions, partly by the paucity of British troops along 
the frontier, and partly by the proved inefficiency of the 
Ahom standing army, which was dressed and drilled on the 
model of the Company's sepoys. But, whatever the cause, 
they began to behave with the greatest insolence and to 
commit various wanton acts of aggression, not only along the 
northern frontier of Bengal, but also on the borders of Chitta- 
gong and Sylhet. Remonstrances were made by the Governor 
General without effect, and it was at last decided to resort to 
arms. 

The first active measures were taken in the Surma valley. 
News having been received that the Burmese Governor of the 
Brahmaputra valley was contemplating the invasion of 
Cachar, he was informed that that tract had been taken under 
British protection, and a detachment of sixteen hundred men 
was sent to the frontier of Sylhet. On their arrival it was 
found that three Burmese forces were in the neighbourhood. 
One of about four thousand men was advancing from Nowgong 
through North Cachar ; another was marching on the same 
objective by way of the Jaintia Hills, while a third, from Mani- 
pur, had already arrived in South Cachar and inflicted a defeat 
on Gambhir Singh's local levies. In reply to a protest that 
was addressed to them, the Burmese commanders stated that 
they had received orders from the king of Ava to replace Gobind 
Chandra on the throne of Cachar and to arrest the three 



THE BURMESE WAR. 275 

Manipuri chiefs who had ousted him. On receiving this 
communication, the British commandant determined to take 
the offensive before the hostile forces had joined hands. On 
the 17th January 1824, he marched with his whole detach- 
ment against the army from Nowgong, which had stockaded 
itself at Bikrampur. He came in sight of the enemy at 
daylight, and, attacking at once, soon put them to flight. 
The Burmese escaped into the hills, whither he was not strong 
enough to pursue them, and they subsequently effected a 
junction with the Manipur force. 

The British detachment was soon afterwards withdrawn 
to Badarpur, whereupon the Burmese advanced to Jatrapur, 
some eight miles distant, and erected stockades on both banks 
of the Barak, which they connected by a bridge over the 
river. Their forces at this point amounted to about six 
thousand men, of whom two thousand were Burmese and the 
remainder Assamese and Kacharis. There was a separate 
detachment of about two thousand men at Kila Kandi in the 
south-east of Cachar. The Burmese gradually pushed for- 
ward their stockades on the north bank of the Barak until, 
at last, they were within a thousand yards of the British 
advanced post on the south bank. They were then attacked 
and put to flight. The Nowgong and Manipur contingents 
retreated in different directions. The former were again 
attacked at the foot of the Bhertika Pass, on the bank of the 
Jatinga river. They were driven from their stockades, and 
fled into the hills, whence they made their way back to 
Nowgong. 

The British then marched against the Manipur force 
which had taken up a very strong position at Dudpatli. The 
assault failed, and a retreat was made to Jatrapur. Here 
reinforcements were received, which would have sufficed for a 
fresh attack, but the Burmese, although they had repelled the 
assault on their stockades, had lost heavily, and had already 
fallen back to Manipur. The scarcity of supplies in Cachar 
rendered it extremely difficult to maintain a large force there ; 
and the British, on hearing of the enemy's retreat, went into 

?§ 



276 THE BURMESE WAR. 

cantonments at Sylhet, leaving only a detachment of the 

Rangpur Local Infantry in Cachar. 

Opera- These events had preceded the formal declaration of war, 

tions in w hj c h was no t proclaimed until the 5th March. In anticipa- 

Brahma- tion of active operations a force of about 3,000 men, with 

P n * ra several cannon and a gunboat flotilla, had been collected at 

Goalpara, on the frontier of the old Ahom kingdom. To this 

force was now assigned the task of turning the Burmese out 

of the Brahmaputra valley. After a toilsome journey of 

fifteen days through the jungles and trackless swamps to which 

the greater part of the country between Goalpara and Gauhati 

was at that time given over, it reached the latter place on the 

28th March. 

Burmese The Burmese had erected strong stockades near Gauhati, 

retreat to ^^ y^j,, numDe rs had been greatly reduced by desertions, by 

Assam, the withdrawal of troops for service in Burma itself, and by 

the operations in the direction of Cachar, which have already 

been described, and their generals did not feel strong enough 

to venture on an engagement. They accordingly retired to 

Mara Mukh in Upper Assam, after massacring many of the 

unfortunate inhabitants, whose bodies, barbarously mutilated, 

were found by the advancing British along the road and in 

the stockades at Gauhati. 

British Had more active measures been taken at this stage, it is 

troops probable that the whole province might have been cleared of 

long halt the enemy before the advent of the rainy season. But in the 

Jj* absence of information regarding the state of the roads, the 

possibility of obtaining supplies, and the attitude of the 

natives of the country, a long halt was made at Gauhati. 

For some time the only step in advance was taken by the 

Civilian, David Scott, who, as Agent to the Governor General 

for the Eastern Frontier, had accompanied the Cachar force in 

the operations already described. In order to join the troops 

in the Brahmaputra valley, he crossed over the Jaintia hills 

with three Companies of the 23rd Native Infantry and entered 

Nowgong, whence he marched westwards to Gauhati, leaving 

Jiis escort to hold the town of Nowgong. 



THE BURMESE WAR* 277 

About the end of April the Burmese, finding themselves 
unmolested, advanced again as far as Koliabar. A force was 
sent from Gauhati to eject them. They had made a stockade 
at Hatbar, but, on the approach of the British troops, retreated 
to Rangaligarh without waiting to be attacked. A party 
that afterwards attempted to re- occupy the stockade was sur- 
prised, and put to flight with considerable loss. A small 
British detachment was now placed in the stockade. The 
Burmese attempted to surprise it, but the defenders were on 
the alert, and routed their assailants, killing a large number. 
The Burmese then abandoned Rangaligarh and fell back once 
more on Mara Mukh. 

Colonel Richards, the British commander, had established Fresh 
his head-quarters at Koliabar but, when the rains set in, advance 
the difficulty of procuring supplies compelled him to return Burmese, 
to Gauhati. The Burmese thereupon re-occupied not only Tem ble 
Koliabar, but also Raha and Nowgong, and, in revenge perpe- 
for the friendly disposition which the Assamese had shown trated by 
towards the British troops, they pillaged all the surrounding 
country and committed appalling atrocities on the helpless 
inhabitants. Some they flayed alive, others they burnt in oil, 
and others again they drove in crowds into the village 
nattighars, or prayer houses, which they then set on fire. 

The terror with which they inspired the people was so 
great that many thousands fled into the hills and jungles 
to the south, where large numbers died of disease or starva- 
tion ; and only a small remnant, after enduring unspeakable 
hardships, managed to reach the plains of the Surma valley, 
where several of the submontane villages are peopled by 
their descendants, who still talk pure Assamese. The depopu- 
lation of the region round Doboka and the Kopili valley 
dates from this disastrous time, which is still fresh in the 
memory of the inhabitants of Nowgong, who speak with as 
much horror of the Manar Upadrab, or a oppressions of the 
Burmese, " as do the inhabitants of the Bengal littoral of the 
devastations of the Maghs, to which they were exposed 
before the establishment of the Pax Britannica, 



278 THE BURMESE WAR. 

Second When the rains were over, arrangements were made for 

campaign & £ regh a( j vance f t ^ e British troops. The only practicable 

Brahma- means of transport was by boats towed laboriously against 

valley. ^ e stron S cul *rent of the river, and the rate of progress 

was necessarily very slow. Two divisions were despatched 

about the end of October, the one by way of the Kallang, and 

the other up the main stream of the Brahmaputra. The former, 

which was remarkably well served by its Intelligence Officer, 

Lieutenant Neufville, surprised several Burmese detachments 

at Raha, and elsewhere, and only just failed to catch the 

Governor himself at Nowgong. 

Advance When Koliabar had been secured, the rest of the troops were 

o Jorhat. g ra d ua n v removed thither. Early in January Mara Mukh was 

occupied. From this point several detachments were sent 

out, who operated with great success against various stockades 

in the vicinity held by the Burmese. The Burmese were thus 

compelled to concentrate their forces at Jorhat, leaving the 

road open for the British advance. They were also, at this 

time, distracted by internal disputes, and the Burha Raja, or 

Burmese Governor, was assassinated by a rival leader, known 

as the Shan Phukan. Despairing of defending Jorhat, they 

set fire to their stockade and fell back upon the capital at 

Rangpur. 

The advance of the British troops was hampered by heavy 

rain, but they reached Jorhat on the 17th January and 

Gaurisagar eight days later. The commissariat flotilla, with its 

escort of gunboats, being unable to ascend the shallow stream 

of the Dikhu, halted at its mouth, and from this point all 

supplies had to be transported by road. 

Burmese On the morning of the 27th January the enemy attacked 

defeated an advanced post of the British encampment at a bridge over 

Rangpur. ^ ne Namdang river. Supports were moved up quickly, and 

then, in order to encourage the Burmese to show themselves, 

a retreat from the bridge was feigned. The Burmese fell into 

the trap, and were attacked and put to flight with heavy loss. 

The above account of the operations against the Burmese 

has been taken mainly from Wilson's Narrative of the 



THE BURMESE WAR. 279 

Burmese War. The remaining incidents of this campaign 
are best told in the author's own words :— 

" Having been joined by the requisite reinforcement of guns, Colonel 
Richards resumed his march towards Rangpur on the morning of the 
29th. The approach of the capital had been fortified by the enemy ; a 
stockade had been drawn across the road, the left of which was 
strengthened by an entrenched tank, a little way in front, and the right 
was within gunshot of the fort ; the position mounted several guns, and 
was defended by a strong party. 

"On approaching the defences, the assailants were saluted by a 
heavy fire, which brought down half the leading division and caused 
a momentary check : a couple of shells and a round or two of grape 
having been thrown in, the column again advanced and the stockade was 
escaladed and carried by the right wing of the 57th Regiment, under 
Captain Martin, supported by the 46th. 

" The tank on the right was also occupied and two temples, one on 
the right and the other on the left, were taken possession of, by which the 
south side of the fort was completely invested and the enemy was driven in 
at all points. In this action Lieutenant-Colonel Richards and Lieutenant 
Brooke* were wounded ; the former slightly, the latter severely ; the num- 
ber of wounded was considerable, but the loss in killed was of little amount. 

" The result of these two engagements not only dispirited the Burmese 
Burmas, but gave renewed inveteracy to the divisions that prevailed evacuate 
amongst them. The two Chiefs, the Sam (or Shan) and the Bagli Phu- ^ ne . 
kans, were willing to stipulate for terms ; but the more numerous party, « ovmce » 
headed by the subordinate Chiefs, were resolutely bent on resistance and se ttle in 
threatened the advocates of pacific measures with extermination. The 
latter, however, so far prevailed as to despatch a messenger to the 
British Commander, a Bauddha priest, a native of Ceylon, but brought 
up in Ava, Dharmadhar Brahmachari, to negotiate terms for the surren- 
der of Rangpur, and they were finally agreed on through his mediation. 
Such of the garrison as continued hostile were allowed to retire into the 
Burman territory, on their engaging to abstain from any act of aggression 
on their retreat, and those who were pacifically inclined were suffered to 
remain unmolested with their families and property : their final destination 
to await the decision of the Governor-General's Agent, but in the event ot 
peace with Ava they were not to be given up to that governments 

* Afterwards Raja Brooke of own race married women of the 

Sarawak. country. They are said by McCosh 

t Most of these eventually to have been most useful in 

settled down at Singimari in the dealing with disturbances amongst 

Goalpftra district, where lands were the Garos during the early days 

assigned them for cultivation, of British rule. 
Those who had no wives of their 



280 THE BURMESE WAR. 

" Colonel Richards was induced to accede to these conditions, by his 
conviction of the impossibility of preventing the escape of the garrison, 
upon the capture of the fort, or of pursuing them on their flight. It was 
also to have been apprehended, if the evacuation of the province had 
been much longer delayed, that it might not have been cleared of the 
enemy during the campaign, as the want of carriage and supplies would 
have detained the army some time at Rangpur and might have delayed 
its movements till the season was too far advanced to admit of its pro- 
gress far beyond the Capital. By the occupation of Rangpur on the 
terms granted, much time was saved as well as some loss of life avoided ; 
and the object of the campaign, the expulsion of the Burmas from Assam 
without the fear of their renewing their irruptions with any success, 
was peaceably and promptly secured. The persons that surrendered 
themselves by virtue of these stipulations were the Sam Phukan and 
about seven hundred of the garrison ; the rest, about nine thousand of 
both sexes and all ages, including two thousand fighting men, with- 
drew to the frontiers ; but many dropped off on the retreat and established 
themselves in Assam." 

Final The surrender o£ Rangpur and the ejection of the 

Burmese Burmese terminated the regular campaign, but the state of 
and their anarchy into which the country had fallen, and the lawless 
allrefc con( ^ uc ^ °^ ^ ne frontier tribes, still afforded plenty of employ- 
ment for the British troops. The Singphos in particular 
were in urgent need of repression. During the Burmese 
occupation, they had made constant raids on the hapless 
Assamese, carrying off thousands as slaves and reducing the 
eastern part of the country to a state of almost complete 
depopulation. Their bands, estimated to number 7,500 men, 
shut up the Sadiya Khowa Gohain within his stockades and 
attacked the Bar Senapati in his own territory. Both 
appealed to the British, who sent them help, whereupon the 
Singphos desisted from their attacks and entered into nego- 
tiations. At this juncture, in June, 1825, the Burmese, to the 
number of about six hundred, again appeared on the Patkai, 
and the Singphos made common cause with them. Captain 
Neufville at once led a party of the 57th Native Infantry up 
the Noa Dihing, and, by a series of gallant assaults, defeated 
the allies and expelled them from the Singpho villages around 
Bisa, which he destroyed. The Singphos then submitted, 



THE BURMESE WAR. 281 

and the Burmese made their final exit from the country. 
In the course of these operations it is said that Captain 
Neuf ville restored no less than six thousand Assamese captives 
to freedom. 

The ease with which the Burmese had been ejected was 
no surprise to the officers on the spot, and, before the outbreak 
of hostilities, David Scott had written to the Government 
saying that "their expulsion would be a matter of no diffi- 
culty, although the unhealthiness of the country would make 
its permanent occupation by us a matter of regret in some 
respects."* 

Meanwhile fresh operations had been found necessary in Renewal 
Cachar, where the Burmese had been encouraged by the ^ions in 
withdrawal of the main body of British troops to renew their Cachar. 
invasion, and had occupied stockades at Talain, Dudpatli and 
Jatrapur. In June, 1824, Colonel Innes with twelve hundred 
men took possession of Jatrapur, but he was repulsed in an 
attempt to capture the Talain stockade. He then remained 
on the defensive, until the close of the rains. 

A force of seven hundred men was now collected with the 
object of freeing Cachar and Manipur from the enemy and 
also, if possible, of making a demonstration against Ava from 
this direction. The Burmese had by this time evacuated 
Talain, where they had suffered much from disease. A track 
was cleared to Dudpatli. This place was occupied without 
opposition, and great efforts were made to carry a road 
through to Manipur, but serious obstacles were encountered 
in the shape of the mountainous character of the country, 
the clayey nature of the soil and the unusually heavy rainfall. 
Large numbers of elephants, bullocks and other transport 
animals were lost, and in the end the attempt was abandoned 
and the force was broken up. 

The primary object in view, viz., the expulsion of the Gambhir 
Burmese from Manipur was, however, achieved by Gambhir j^?S n 

Singh, who had accompanied the troops with an irregular Burmese 

from 

• Despatch to Court of Directors, dated the 20th July, 1823. 



282 THE BURMESE WAR* 

levy of five hundred Manipuris and Kacharis. These men 
had been provided with arms by the British Commander, but 
they were wholly undisciplined, and it was only at Gambhir 
Singh's urgent request, that he was permitted to advance 
with them to Manipur. He left Sylhet on the 17th May 
accompanied by Lieutenant Pemberton, who had volunteered 
for the expedition, and who was afterwards so well-known 
on this frontier. After a march of great difficulty and 
privation, often through torrents of rain, he emerged in the 
valley of Manipur on the 10th June. The Burmese there- 
upon retreated from the town of Imphal and the adjoining 
villages to a place called Undra, about ten miles to the 
south. But here too they made no stand ; and, as soon as the 
advance was continued, they again fled, and left the State 
altogether. 

The inclemency of the season and the dearth of supplies 
made it impossible for the whole force to remain in Manipur ; 
so Gambhir Singh returned with the bulk of his followers 
to Sylhet, leaving a small detachment to guard Manipur, 
aided by some of the inhabitants, whom he had provided with 
arms. 

On the 4th December he again set out for Manipur, and 
reached the capital in a fortnight. There were no Burmese 
there, but a considerable number of them occupied a stockade at 
Tammu, in the south-east corner of the valley. He had no 
guns, and the loss in a direct attack would probably have 
been very great. He avoided this by cutting off the water- 
supply, which compelled the Burmese to retreat, after they 
had made several ineffectual sallies. The capture of a second 
stockade on the bank of the Ningthi river freed the whole State 
from the presence of the Burmese. Here and elsewhere 
liberty was restored to large numbers of Manipuris who had 
been carried off by the Burmese as slaves. 
WjjJ Meanwhile the operations of the British arms in Burma 
itself had been crowned with success, and the king of Ava 
was at last reluctantly compelled to accept the terms of peace 
which were offered him. By the treaty of Yandabo, which 



THE BURMESE WAR. 283 

was concluded on the 24th February, 1826, he agreed, 
amongst other things, to abstain from all interference in the 
affairs of the countries which now constitute the province of 
Assam, and to recognize Gambhir Singh as Raja of Manipur. 



284 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 



CHAPTER XV. 

CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 
Condition The condition of the Brahmaputra valley at the time of 
people ^ ne expulsion of the Burmese was most deplorable. No less 
after the than thirty thousand Assamese had been taken away as slaves, 
of the* 1011 an( ^ a well-known native authority was of opinion that the 
Burmese, invaders, by their barbarous and inhuman conduct, had " des- 
troyed more than one-half of the population, which had 
already been thinned by intestine commotions and repeated 
civil wars."* Those who survived had been so harassed by 
the long-continued wars and repeated acts of oppression that 
they had almost given up cultivation, and lived chiefly on jungle 
root and plants ; and famine and pestilence carried off thousands 
that escaped the sword and captivity. The Ahom nobles 
and the great Gosains, with few exceptions, had retired 
to Goalpara, after losing the whole, or the bulk of, their 
property ; and they were followed by large numbers of the 
common people. The former eventually returned to their 
homes, but the poorer refugees did not, and their descendants 
still form a large proportion of the inhabitants of the 
eastern part of Goalpara. 
Rendition The Burmese had now been finally ejected from Assam, 
pur ani " ^ u ^ ^ s ^ remained to be decided how the country which they 
Cachar had evacuated should be dealt with. Manipur was restored to 

t • *. Gambhir Singh, who had himself been the chief means of 

Jaintia , . . 

to native driving out the Burmese, and for this and other reasons was 

rulers. considered to have a better claim than either of his brothers. 

The Jaintia Raja, Earn Singh, was confirmed in his possessions, 

both in the hills and in the submontane tract on the north 

bank of the Surma river. Gobind Chandra was re-instated 

as Raja of Cachar. By a treaty executed at Badarpur on the 

* Observations on the Adminis- by Anandiram Dhekial Phukan, 
tration of the Province of Assam, printed in Mill's Report. 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 285 

6th March 1824, the last-mentioned prince acknowledged his 
allegiance to the East India Company and agreed to pay a 
tribute of Rs. 10,000 a year, and to submit to the Company's 
arbitration in the case of disputes with other Rajas ; on the 
other hand the Company undertook to protect him from 
external aggression, to leave him to manage his own internal 
affairs, and to make provision for the Manipuri princes who 
had lately occupied his country. 

The problem in the Brahmaputra valley was more diffi- Brahma* 
cult. Not only had the Burmese been in possession for several P 1 ^™ 
years, in the course of which they had overthrown most of the taken 
old administrative landmarks, but the people were split up UQ der 
into many conflicting parties, and the elevation of any manage- 
particular pretender to the throne would have resulted, as soon ment. 
as the British troops were withdrawn, in a renewal of the 
fatal dissensions and civil wars which had prevailed for so 
many years before the Burmese occupation. With the excep- 
tion, therefore, of two tracts in Upper Assam, vis., Sadiya and 
Matak, it was decided, for a time at least, to administer the 
country as a British province. 

Its management was entrusted, in November 1823, to David 

David Scott who had been appointed Agent to the Governor . , , 

General for the whole eastern frontier from Cachar and Agent 

Sylhet in the south to the Sikkim country in the north.* {? tlie 

..... (iovernor 

He was at the same time Special Civil Commissioner of North- General. 

East Rangpur, i.e., Goalpara and the Garo Hills, and Judge 
of Circuit and Appeal in the Zilla of Sylhet ; but in spite of 
this multiplicity of appointments, he was left to perform his 
new duties with a wholly inadequate amount of assistance. 
In Upper Assam he was relieved of the direct control of 
affairs by the appointment of an assistant. This post was 
filled, first by Colonel Cooper and afterwards, in 1828, by 
Captain Neuf ville, who had distinguished himself as Intelli- 
gence Officer during the Burmese war. The head-quarters of 
this officer were originally at Rangpur, near Sibsagar, but 

•Letter No. 1, dated 14th Nov- to the Government of India, to 
ember 1823, from the Secretary Mr. Scott. 



286 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

they were afterwards moved to Jorhat. For the conduct o£ 
the administration in Lower Assam, David Scott was left 
absolutely single-handed until, after urgent and repeated 
requests, Captain Adam White was deputed to help him. 
The Captain Neufville also commanded the Assam Light 

L vm!* Infantry, a corps of about a thousand men, which had been 
Infantry, raised in Cuttack in 1817, under the name of the Cuttack 
legion, and was subsequently transferred to the Rangpur 
district of Bengal. After its permanent location in Assam, 
it consisted mainly of Hindustanis and Gurkhas, with a 
sprinkling of Manipuris and natives of the province. 
The It has already been mentioned that Matak and the country 

tr round Sadiya were excluded from the direct administrative 
left under control of the Agent to the Governor General. The former 
its own -t rac ^ w hich lay to the south of Sadiya, in the angle between the 
Brahmaputra and the Buri Dihing, and was chiefly inhabited 
by persons of the Moamaria sect, was governed by a chief 
called the Bar Senapati, the son of the man who had been 
given that title by Purnananda Burha Gohain. He had 
shown considerable ability as a ruler, and had protected his 
people during the Burmese occupation, alike from the predatory 
inroads of the Burmese* and from the raids of the Sing- 
phos, who, during this troublous period harried the other 
parts of the Ahom king's dominions as far west as Jorhat. 
His capital was almost in the centre of his jurisdiction, at 
Rangagora on the Dibru river. This Chief was left in semi- 
independent possession of his country; and, in May 182 6, he 
executed a treaty, in which it was provided that he should 
supply to Government two-thirds of the total number of his 
paiks. This arrangement worked badly, and gave rise to 
much friction, which was increased by the encouragement 
which he gave to runaway paiks to settle on his lands. It 
was therefore proposed by Government to substitute, in lieu 

* He employed a Burmese subject plaint; but his immunity from 

as the intermediary in his nego- attack was probably due, in a large 

tiations with the Ava authorities, measure, to the jungles which sur- 

and was always studious to avoid rounded his territory and to its 

giving them any ground for com- comparative poverty. 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 287 

of all other demands, a fixed tribute of Rs. 12,000 a year, or 
Rs. 2,000 more than he had paid under the Ahom Government. 
He objected strenuously to the payment of so large a sum, 
and at last succeeded in getting it reduced to Rs. 1,800, but 
only for the term of his own life. A new treaty was executed 
in January 1835, by which he undertook to pay this amount 
as tribute, and to supply, when required, a contingent of 
troops, for whose armament he was given ammunition and 
three hundred muskets. He derived his revenue from a 
poll-tax of three rupees per head in the case of Morans and 
Kacharis, two rupees eight annas for Bihis or gold-washers, 
and two rupees for ordinary Assamese. 

We have seen how the Khamtis, in 1794, overthrew the gadiya 
Ahom Viceroy of Sadiya, known a6 the Sadiya Khowa under the 
Gohain, and gave his name and jurisdiction to a chief of Knamtl8 > 
their own race. They were suppressed in Kamalesvar's reign, 
but rose to power again during the subsequent commotions. 
Their chief was now recognized by the British Government 
as the lawful ruler. He was not required to pay any tribute, 
but he agreed to maintain a force of two hundred men, who 
were provided by the Government with arms and ammuni- 
tion, and were drilled for four months in the year by a native 
officer of the Assam Light Infantry, of which force from two 
to four companies were stationed at Sadiya, as a protection 
against the restless tribes inhabiting the surrounding hills. 
The internal management of the Khamtis vested in their own 
chiefs, who also dealt with petty cases amongst the local 
Assamese and collected from them a poll-tax of one rupee a 
head. This they remitted to the Political Officer, who 
tried serious offences committed by the Assamese. 

The Singphos, who occupied the level tract of country an( j 
extending eastwards from the Moamaria borders across the Singphos 
Noa Dihing and Tengapani rivers, also made their submission. SJSfrn 
No revenue was demanded from them, but the Gam, or chief, head men. 
of Bisa, was required to supply, if needed, a contingent of 
eighty men, and to give immediate information to the British 
authorities of anything calculated to excite apprehension 



288 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 



Adminis- 
tration of 
British 
portion 
of Brah- 
maputra 
valley. 



Disposal 
of civil 
and 

criminal 
work. 



Revenue 
adminis- 
tration. 



that might occur in the vicinity of the Patkai pass. This was 
the route traversed, not only by the Ahoms when they 
first found their way to Assam, but also by the more recent 
Burmese invaders. 

It was not to be expected that David Scott, with his 
multifarious duties and inadequate staff of assistants, would 
be able to effect many reforms in the administration of those 
parts of the Brahmaputra valley which remained under 
his direct management ; nor, indeed, so long as the question 
of permanent control remained undecided, was this expected 
or desired. He was most persistent in his efforts to correct 
the worst abuses, such as the widespread system of 
slavery ; but his energies, and those of his assistants, were, 
in the main, directed to the assessment and collection of the 
revenue. 

The ordinary criminal and civil duties were performed 
by councils of the local gentry, designated panchdyats, of 
which there were some half dozen. More heinous cases were 
tried, with the assistance of a panchayat, by the Commis- 
sioner's Assistants, who also disposed of appeals from the 
joanchdyats, and from whose decisions, both appellate 
and original, a further appeal lay to the Commissioner 
himself. 

In regard to the revenue administration, it was thought 
inadvisable to make any radical change until the ultimate 
destiny of the country had been settled. The only import- 
ant alteration adopted was the imposition of a poll-tax, of 
three rupees per pdik, in lieu of the old liability to personal 
service for three or four months in the year. The duty of 
collecting this tax was entrusted to the old staff of hhel 
officials, but the pdiks of the different hheh had become 
so scattered during the recent disturbances that this 
method of realizing the Government dues was found most 
tedious and uncertain, and the amounts which were eventually 
paid into the treasury were ridiculously small. The 
method of collection was therefore changed from a personal, 
to a territorial, basis. The whole area of a district was 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 289 

parcelled out into blocks called mauzas* or makdls, and tho 
dues realizable from all persons resident in a given mauza 
were collected by the officer in charge of it, who was variously 
known as the mauzdddr, bishayd, chaudhuri, Jcdgoti or pdtgiri. 
The poll-tax was soon abandoned in favour of a regular 
assessment of the land based on actual measurement. To carry 
out the arrangements which these changes involved, Captains 
Mathie, Rutherford and Bogle were appointed "Principal 
Assistants/' or Collectors, of Darrang, Nowgong and 
Kamrup, The cultivated area was divided into basti, or home- 
stead ; rupit, or land on which the transplanted rice called 
sdli is grown; bdo-toli, or land growing bdo rice; and 
faringali, or land growing dry crops, such as mustard, and 
ahu rice.f For a time, the homestead lands were assessed 
at so much a house, the amount varying in Kamrup from 
Rs. 3 to Rs. 1-8-0 according to the circumstances of the occu- 
pants. The rupit lands in the same district were originally 
assessed at one rupee -per pur a, the bdo-toli at twelve annas, and 
the faring ati at four annas. These rates were gradually raised, 
and in 1848 they had reached Rs. 1-4-0 per pur a for rupit , 
and one rupee for all other kinds of land, including basti. 

The rates differed slightly in other districts, and the change 
from the old manner of assessment to the new took much 
longer to effect in some parts than it did in others. In the 
north of Darrang the indigenous khelwari system lingered 
on until 1841, when a plough tax of three rupees was levied ; 
a regular land assessment was first introduced there in 1843. 

* The Assam mauza of the assigned to each, the mauza came 

present day is a very different to include more and more villages, 

thing from the territorial village, so that at the present day it often 

or revenue unit of area, which is contains twenty or thirty, or even 

the meaning attached to the term more. 

in Bengal. Originally it had that t Rupit is, of course, derived 

meaning in Assam also, but it from rupan, to plough. The 

soon came to be used primarily origin of the word faring ati is 

with reference to the area in unknown. Possibly it comes from 

charge of a mauzdddr, or revenue farkhaiti, an acquittance, or rent 

collector ; and, as it was found receipt. This was the only class of 

advisable, for many reasons, gra- land which in former times was 

dually to reduce the number of always held subject to the payment 

mauzdddr s, by increasing the areas of rent. 



290 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

For the first few years annual settlements of the land 
revenue were effected, but subsequently the plan was tried of 
settling for a term of years with the mauzddar, who took upon 
himself all the risks of loss, while, on the other hand, he 
enjoyed the additional rents which accrued from extended 
cultivation. In 1854, however, annual settlements had again 
been reverted to. 

The revenue of Kamrup, Darrang and Nowgong under 
the khelwari system amounted in 1832-33 to Us. 1,10,181, 
lis. 41,506 and Us. 31,509 respectively. Ten years later, the 
land revenue, which replaced it, amounted to Rs. 2,52,991 in 
Kamrup, Rs. 1,35,454 in Darrang, Rs. 1,10,314 in Nowgong, 
Rs. 80,843 in Sibsagar, and Rs. 34,730 in Lakhimpur, or to 
a total for Assam proper of Rs. 6,14,332. A decade later, 
this had risen to Rs. 7,43,689. 
Death of The arrangements for the introduction of this improved 

g*J[j. method of assessing the land revenue had been initiated by 
David Scott, but before they could be completed, his unremit- 
ting labours in a relaxing climate had proved too much for 
an already enfeebled physique, and he breathed his last in 
August 1831. He was deeply regretted by the natives of the 
province, for the amelioration of whose lot he had always been 
most solicitous. He was buried at Cherrapunji and his tomb 
bears the following inscription : — 

In Memory 
of David Scott, Agent to the Governor -General of the North-East 
Frontier of Bengal, and Commissioner of Revenue and Circuit in the 
District of Assam, North-Eastern part of Rangpur, Sherpur and 
Sylhet. Died 20th August 1831, aged 45, years and 3 months. This 
monument is erected by order of the Supreme Government as a 
public and lasting record of its consideration for the personal character 
of the deceased and of its estimation of the eminent services rendered 
by him in the administration of the extensive territory committed to 
his charge. By his demise the Government has been deprived of 
a most zealous, able and intelligent servant whose loss it deeply laments, 
while his name will long be held in grateful remembrance and veneration 
by the native population, to whom he was justly endeared by his impartial 
dispensation of justice, his kind and conciliatory manners and his constant 
and unwearied endeavours to promote their happiness and welfare. 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 291 

The late Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in the North-Eastern 
Frontier of Bengal, penned the following eulogy on this 
able and devoted officer : — 

The name and fame of David Scott are still green on the North- 
East Frontier. He was one of those remarkable men who have from 
time to time been the ornament of our Indian services. Had the scene 
of his labours been in North-West or Central India, where the great 
problem of Empire was then being worked out, he would occupy a place in 
history by the side of Malcolm, Elphinstone and Metcalfe. 

Meanwhile the question of restoring the other parts of Purandar 
the Brahmaputra valley to native rule continued to be „ ^ 
discussed. It was admitted on all hands that it would not be Ra 3 a °f 
right to withdraw the British troops altogether, as this Assam, 
would be certain to lead to a revival of the internecine dis- 
turbances which had previously brought the country to the 
verge of ruin, but, on the other hand, it was not desired 
to resort to permanent annexation, if any other alternative 
could be found. It was, therefore, decided to follow a 
middle course, i.e., to instal a native ruler in one part of 
the province, and to retain the other part as a means of 
providing the revenue required for the maintenance of an 
adequate British garrison. 

It remained to settle what portion should be retained 
and what restored, and to whom restoration should be made. 
David Scott was at first in favour of establishing a native 
government in Central Assam, but this proposal was not 
viewed with favour by the higher authorities, who did not, in 
this case, see how to deal with the territory lying to the east 
of the proposed State. At the time of his death, he had 
matured an alternative project for re-instating Purandar Singh 
in the country east of the Dhansiri river. This plan was 
recommended to Government by his successor Mr. T. C. 
Robertson, who subsequently became Deputy Governor of 
Bengal ; and, early in 1833, the whole of Upper Assam, except 
Sadiya and Matak, was formally made over to that prince. 

u2 



292 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

In his report to Government Mr. Robertson wrote as follows 
regarding* Purandar Singh's qualifications : — " I have had 
several interviews with Purandar Singh at Gauhati, and see no 
reason, from his outward appearance and manners, to doubt 
of his fitness for the dignity, for which all unite in preferring 
him to his only rival Chandrakant. Purandar Singh is a 
young man, apparently about 25 years of age. His counten- 
ance is pleasing and his manners extremely good. His natural 
abilities seem respectable and his disposition mild and pacific. 
. . . Major White and Lieutenants Mathie and Ruther- 
ford are all decidedly of opinion that Purandar Singh is the 
person best fitted to be at the head of the State which it has 
been decided to create."* 

By a treaty entered into with him at the time of his 
installation, he was placed on the same footing as other 
protected princes ; the entire civil administration was left in 
his hands, and his territory was secured from the attacks 
of hostile States on condition of his paying a yearly tribute of 
Rs. 50,000t out of an estimated revenue of Rs. 1,20,000. The 
British Government still maintained direct political relations 
with the Chiefs of Matak and Sadiya, and with the surround- 
ing hill tribes, and continued to keep a garrison and a 
Political Officer at Sadiya. Jorhat was made the capital of 
the new State, and the head-quarters of the Political Agent 
and of the Assam Light Infantry were transferred from 
that place to Bishnath. A detachment of the latter was 
left at Jorhat for the protection of the Raja and the preserva- 
tion of peace. 
Forma- In 1834 Mr. Robertson was succeeded as Commissioner 

tion of ailf ^ Ag. en t to the Governor General by Captain, afterwards 

in rest of (reneral, Jenkins. At this period the British portion of the 
Brahma- 
putra. * Political Proceedings of the a tribute of Ks. 3,00,000 if re- 
valley. Government of Bengal, dated 4th instated in the whole of his ancestral 

February 1833, Nos. 123—4. kingdom, and in addition to repay 

t In 1822, when a fugitive from all the expenses connected with 

the Burmese, he had offered to pay the expulsion of the Burmese, 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 293 

valley was divided into four districts, viz., Goalpara, Kamrup, 
Darrang, including Bishnath, and Nowgong. 

The capital of the last-mentioned district, which extended 
as far east as the Dhansiri, and was often called Khagarijan 
in the early records, was originally at Nowgong. It was 
removed in 1834 to Rangagora, and subsequently to Purani 
Gudam, whence it was eventually re-transferred to 
Nowgong. Kamrup included the country along both banks 
of the Brahmaputra, from the Monas in the west to the 
Bar Nadi in the east ; its capital was at Gauhati which was 
also the head-quarters of the Commissioner of Assam. The 
Darrang district takes its name from the western part, which 
was formerly under the rule of the Darrang Rajas, and the 
officer in charge was at first stationed at Mangaldai. But 
this place was found unsuitable in several ways; it was 
unhealthy and liable to inundation, and the encroachments of 
the river were at one time so great that it seemed in danger 
of being washed away; it was accordingly abandoned, in 
1835, in favour of Purapur, or Tezpur, which is in every way 
a far better site. 

Goalpara, including the Garo hills but excluding the 
Eastern Duars, was originally administered from Rangpur and, 
as such, formed part of the province of Bengal which, by the 
Mughal Emperor's far man of the 12 th August 1765, was 
transferred to the East India Company. Under the 
provisions of Regulation X of 1822 it was cut on: from 
Rangpur and formed into a separate district with head-quarters 
at Goalpara. When David Scott was entrusted with the 
administration of the tract taken from the Burmese, he was 
already in charge of Goalpara, and from that time this district 
was treated as part of the ordinary jurisdiction of the 
Commissioner of Assam. In 1867, when the Bengal Commis- 
sionership of Koch Bihar was formed, it, with the newly 
acquired " Eastern Duars/ ' was included in that Commis- 
sionership. In the following year the judicial administration 
was restored to the Judicial Commissioner of Assam, but the 
executive control remained with the Commissioner of Koch 



294. CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

Bihar until the formation of the Chief Commissionership of 
Assam in 1874. As will be seen further on, the Garo hills 
were constituted a separate district in 1869. When the daily- 
mail steamer service was inaugurated, about a dozen years 
later, the head -quarters of the Goalpara district were removed 
to Dhubri, which was made the steamer terminus. 
The legal The legal position of these four districts was defined by 

' Act II of 1835, which placed all functionaries employed in 
them under the control and superintendence of the Sadar 
Court in civil and criminal cases, and of the Bengal Board 
of Revenue in revenue matters ; and further declared that the 
superintendence of these authorities should be exercised in 
conformity with such instructions as might be issued by the 
Government of Bengal. When the semi-independent tracts 
in Upper Assam were resumed, a few years later, the pro- 
visions of this Act were extended to them also. In 1837 a set 
of rules, known as the Assam Code, was drawn up for the 
regulation of procedure in civil and criminal cases. No special 
instructions were laid down for the conduct of revenue business, 
but the local officers were directed to conform as nearly as 
circumstances would permit to the provisions of the Bengal 
Regulations. 
Popu- In 1835 the population of the entire valley was estimated 

latum. to be 799>519 ^ viZi tf ative States in Upper Assam 220,000, 

Darrang 89,519, Nowgong 90,000, Kamrup 300,000, and 
Goalpara 100,000. Except in the case of Goalpara, for 
which a rough estimate was made, these figures appear to 
have been taken from the official returns prepared in con- 
nection with the assessment of the land revenue. It would 
not be safe to place much reliance on them. 
Means of Something had already been done to improve communica- 

oati 1 oT l,i " tions > but the y were sti11 very bad - The CalcTltta P ost was 
carried to Goalpara overland, via Murshidabad, Malda, Dinaj- 

pur and Rangpur. This route was almost impassable in the 

rains, and ordinary travellers at all seasons went by water. The 

journey downstream from Goalpara to Calcutta occupied from 

twenty -five to thirty days, and that in the opposite direction 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 295 

about eight days more. The upward journey was even more 
tedious in the case of large craft. Captain Wilcox in the 
Appendix to his Memoir in the 17th volume of the Asiatic 
Researches, says : — " When coming down the river vl the latter 
end of October 1825., I saw a fleet of commissariat boats (at 
that time very much required with their supplies for the 
army) which had been twenty-five days between Goalpara and 
Nagarbera hill, a distance of thirty miles, and there was no 
remarkable wind to impede their progress/'' 

In spite of this, a number of enterprising Marwari Trade, 
merchants had already established themselves in the province, 
and four of them were engaged in business at Sadiya. The 
trade of the province had been considerable, even in 1809, 
when the imports from Bengal were estimated to amount to 
two-and-a-quarter, and the exports to that province to one- 
and-a-third, lakhs of rupees. In 1834 the imports were 
valued at about two-and-a-half, and the exports, at a little more 
than three lakhs. The last-mentioned figures were returned 
from the custom house at Hadira opposite Goalpara, where 
all imports and exports, except grain, paid a duty of ten per 
cent, or thereabouts, according to the terms of a commercial 
treaty executed with Gaurinath Singh by Captain Welsh on 
behalf of the East India Company in 1793. 

The imports included 3 1,2 2 2 maunds of salt valued at 
Rs. 1,40,502, and the exports, 162,704 maunds of mustard 
seed, valued at one rupee per maund, and 224 maunds of 
mug a silk thread, the value of which was placed at Rs. 53,889. 
In 1835 the custom house was abolished, and all transit dues 
were remitted. 

About the same time a Sebundy regiment of eight com- Forma- 
panies was raised and the strength of the Assam Light * io " °* a 
Infantry was reduced from twelve to ten companies. Gauhati regiment. 
was the head-quarters of the new force, which was composed 
mainly of Rabhas, Kacharis and other similar tribes. 
Sebundies were irregular foot soldiers, who, in pre-British 
times, constituted the armed force which always accompanied 
the tax gatherers. They were also employed on police duties. 



296 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

The main object in raising this force was to protect the people 
of Lower Assam against raids by the Bhutias and other 
tribes ; and, in the cold weather, outposts were occupied by it 
at Udalguri and other points along the frontier. The control 
exercised from head-quarters over these isolated garrisons 
was not always as close as it should have been ; and the 
Principal Assistant of Darrang, writing in 1853, complained 
that the conduct of the men on outpost duty was most 
objectionable. They were, he said, regarded by the people " as 
oppressors worse dreaded than the Bhutias, rapacious, insolent 
and tyrannical, abusing men from the highest to the lowest 
rank unless their most trifling wants are satisfied ." 
The It may be mentioned here that the defence of the Surma 

light valley was entrusted to a force called the Sylhet Local 
Infantry. Battalion, afterwards the Sylhet Light Infantry, with head- 
quarters at Sylhefc. It was raised in 1824, and was recruited 
chiefly from the Manipuris who had left their own country and 
settled in Sylhet and Cachar during the internal troubles and 
frequent Burmese invasions of the first quarter of the last 
century. Two companies of this regiment were stationed 
at Silchar, and at a later date it also occupied Cherrapunji. 
Material The introduction of peace and settled government soon 

c 2 1 ?? 1 lon led to a marked improvement in the condition of the culti- 
people. vating classes, which was described a few years later as one 
<c of great comfort both as regards living and clothing." That 
of the aristocracy, on the other hand, had seriously deteriorated. 
Their slaves had been emancipated, and they had lost the 
services of their lihus, or the paiks formerly assigned to 
them ; and, being no longer able to cultivate their estates, 
they had either thrown them up, or allowed them to be sold 
for arrears of revenue, or for debt. Some members of the late 
ruling family were in receipt of pensions from the British 
Government, and some other persons, e.g., members of the 
Darrang Raja's family, held land, granted to them by former 
rulers, either rent-free or at half rates, but, with these excep- 
tions, the quondam nobles found themselves deprived of their 
old sources of livelihood, and had either to content themselves 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 297 

with small appointments under the British Government or 
to sink to the level of ordinary cultivators. 

While the settlement and development of the new pro- Military 
vince were still engrossing- the attention of the local officers, operations 
they found themselves engaged in hostilities with the Khasi 
Khasis, a group of small independent communities of the hills* 
same race as the hillmen of Jaintia, who occupied the tract 
of country between the Jaintia hills on the east and the 
Garo hills on the west. 

As soon as the Brahmaputra valley had passed under 
British rule, the shrewd mind of David Scott had been im- 
pressed by the expediency of opening direct communication 
between it and the valley of the Surma ; and in 1827 he had 
an interview at Nungklow with Tirat Singh, the Siem 
of that place, and other Khasi chiefs, at which they 
unanimously gave their consent to the construction of a road 
from Rani, via Nungklow, to the Surma valley. The project 
was at once put in hand ; a track was cleared, and bungalows 
were erected at Nungklow. The officers employed on the work 
mixed freely with the tribesmen, and for eighteen months the 
greatest apparent cordiality prevailed. But, in April 1829, 
the Khasis, alarmed by the foolish boast of a Bengali peon, 
who, in a quarrel, taunted them with the prospect of subju- 
gation and taxation as soon as the road should be completed, 
made a sudden attack on the small party. Lieutenant Beding- 
field, one of the two officers at Nungklow, was enticed to 
a conference and massacred ; the other, Lieutenant Burlton, 
defended himself all day against greatly superior numbers, 
and at night fled some way towards Gauhati. He was over- 
taken and put to death with most of his followers, of 
whom only a small remnant escaped to British territory. 
David Scott himself had a very narrow escape, having 
left Nungklow for Cherrapunji only a short time before 
the rising. 

Troops were immediately called up from Sylhet and 
Kamrup, and vigorous reprisals were undertaken. The hill- 
men, favoured by the difficult character of their country, 



298 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

offered a stout, though desultory, resistance. They brought 
off several counter-raids in the plains, but were gradually 
overborne; and, after suffering frequent defeats, one chief after 
another made his submission. On the 9th January 1833 the 
ringleader, Tirat Singh, surrendered himself, and a general 
pacification followed almost immediately. The chiefs were 
allowed to retain a large measure of independence ; but 
they had to submit to the general control of a Political 
Agent, who was thenceforth stationed in the hills and dealt 
with all serious cases of a criminal nature. They had also 
to agree to the construction of such roads, bridges and 
roadside bungalows as might be considered necessary. The 
first Political Agent was Captain Lister, of the Sylhet Light 
Infantry, who held the post for more than twenty years. 
Descrip- There are in all twenty-five petty States in the Khasi 

£? n _ . hills. Fifteen are presided over by Siems who, though taken 
States. always from one family, are chosen by popular election ; one 
is a confederacy under elected officers styled Wahadadars ; 
five are under Sardars, and four under Lyngdohs, both of 
which offices are entirely elective. The election, however, is 
subject to ratification by the British Government, and the 
new chief is required on investiture to confirm the cession 
to the paramount power of the minerals, elephants, forests 
and other natural products of his State, on the condition of 
receiving half the profits accruing from these sources. 

The States of Cherra, Khairam, Nongstain, Lyngrin and 

Nongpung were originally classed as semi-independent, 

having always been friendly, or never having been actually 

coerced by a British force ; but in practice no real distinction 

has ever been made between their position and that of the 

dependent States. 

Establish- The advantages to be gained from a sanitarium in the 

ment of a jjjjjg j^ a i reac jy been recognized. David Scott had favoured 

tarium in Nungklow, but that place was found to be unhealthy and 

the hills, liable to mists. Some advocated the claims of Mairang, 

while others preferred the tableland between the Shillong 

Peak and Nongkrem, and others again, a site near Serrarim. 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 299 

The decision was eventually given in favour of Cherrapunji, 
mainly on the score of its accessibility from Sylhet. In 1864 
this place was abandoned for Shillong. The native name 
for the site of this town is Yeddo, but there is another place 
of this name in Japan, and its founders preferred, therefore, 
to call it Shillong, after the peak which dominates it. 

In Cachar the hapless Gobind Chandra soon found him- Annex- 
self involved in a sea of difficulties. In spite of every effort % 10 £ ° 
to expel him, Tularam remained in possession of the hills. 
The latter was now growing old, and, in 1828, he entrusted 
the command of his troops to his cousin Gobind Ram, who, 
after defeating Gobind Chandra's levies, abused the trust 
reposed in him and turned his arms against his patron. 
Tularam fled to Jaintia, but in July 1829, with the aid of a 
Manipuri detachment, lent by Gambhir Singh, he ousted his 
ungrateful cousin, who in his turn fled to Dharampur and 
entered into an alliance with Gobind Chandra. At this 
stage David Scott induced the Kachari Raja to recognize 
Tularam as the ruler of a considerable tract of country in 
the hills. In spite of this, he soon afterwards instigated 
three separate attacks on him, but the Commissioner caused 
the persons concerned to be apprehended and confined, and 
thus put a stop to further attempts of the kind. In the rest 
of Gobind Chandra's domain, there was no overt opposition to 
his rule, but he was equally unfortunate in other ways. 
During the troubled period which followed the death of 
Krishna Chandra, the Kukis had made constant raids, and 
the south of the district had in parts relapsed into jungle ; 
while the depredations committed by the Burmese had left the 
rest of the country in a state of hopeless destitution. The 
Raja, however, was no sooner restoied to the throne than he 
commenced a series of unsparing exactions on his own people. 
He almost killed the trade between Manipur and Sylhet by 
imposing the heaviest transit dues on all articles of merchan- 
dise. He behaved most tyrannically towards the Manipuris 
who had settled in his territory. His tribute also fell into 
arrears. It would have been impossible to allow this state 



300 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

o£ things to go on indefinitely, bnt in 1830, before matters 
had reached a climax, he died at the hands of a Manipuri 
assassin. He had no descendants, either lineal or adopted, 
and the country was annexed by a proclamation dated the 
14th August 1832, " in compliance, M says Pemberton, writing 
three years later, u with the frequent and earnestly expressed 
wishes of the people/'' 
Tularam Tularam had laid claim to the vacant Raj, alleging that 

Senapati s j^ wag ^ e descendant of an ancient line of princes, anterior 
to that to which the late ruler had belonged, but his preten- 
sions were proved to be groundless and were summarily 
rejected. He was, however, confirmed in the possession of 
the greater part of the tract assigned to him by Gobind 
Chandra, which was bounded on the south by the Mahur 
river and the Naga hills, on the west by the Doyang, on the 
east by the Dhansiri, and on the north by the Jamuna and 
Doyang. He agreed to give a tribute of four elephants' 
tusks each weighing seventy pounds, but this was afterwards 
commuted to a money payment of Rs. 490. On the other 
hand, he was granted for life a pension of fifty rupees 
a month. He was not given the title of Raja, nor was he 
permitted to deal with criminal matters, other than those of 
a trivial nature ; all serious offences were tried by the officer 
in charge of the Nowgong district. 
Arrange- On the annexation of Cachar it was formed into a district 

adminis- 01 * w ^ h eaa * -quarters at Silchar, and was placed in charge of a 
tration of Superintendent, who was subordinate to the Commissioner 
c of Assam. In 1836 it was transferred to the Dacca division, 

and the title of the officer in charge was subsequently changed 
to Deputy Commissioner. By Act V of 1835, Cachar, 
like the Brahmaputra valley, was placed under the juris- 
diction of the High Court of Bengal in civil and criminal 
matters and under that of the Board of Revenue in respect of 
the revenue administration. The first Superintendent was 
Captain Fisher, of the Survey Department, who was described 
by Pemberton as " an officer of approved ability and great 
local experience/'' His first care was to cope with the 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 301 

irruptions of the Kukis. This he did by the expedient of 
settling along the frontier as many Manipuris as possible, 
who, when supplied with a few firearms, easily kept off the 
Kukis, and so protected, not only themselves, but the less 
warlike Bengalis behind them. 

The advent of good government soon wrought a re- 
markable change in the state of this district, and Pember- 
ton, writing in 1835, says : — 

" On both banks of the Surma from Badarpur to Banskandi villages 
have again been established and the plains which, six or seven years ago, 
were wholly deserted and covered with reeds, now present a scene of 
newly-awakened industry and a broad belt of as fine and varied cultivation 
as can be found in any part of Bengal." 

At that time the old name Hidimba or Hiramba was 
still in common use, and it appears, instead of the more 
modern designation of Cachar, on a seal used by the Superin- 
tendent in 1835. 

During the unsettled conditions which prevailed for some Annex- 
time after the Burmese war, the Raja of Jaintia encroached j l ??JL 
considerably on the southern border of the Nowgong district ; 
and between 1830 and 1832 he was repeatedly called upon to 
remove an outpost which he had established without authority 
at Chappar Mukh, at the confluence of the Kopili and Doyang 
rivers. He evaded compliance, but before any coercive 
measures had been taken a fresh cause of dispute arose. In 
1832 the Raja of Gobha, in the west of Nowgong, one 
of the petty chieftains dependent on Jaintia, acting under the 
orders of his suzerain, seized four British subjects, three of 
whom were afterwards immolated at the shrine of the Goddess 
Kali. The fourth escaped and gave information of the 
occurrence. At this juncture Raja Ram Singh died, and was 
succeeded by his nephew, Rajindra Singh. For two years 
the Government endeavoured to induce him to give up the per- 
petrators of the outrage, and reminded him of the consequences 
of refusal, and of the solemn warnings which had been 
given on previous occasions, when similar attempts had been 
made on the lives of British subjects in the district of Sylhet 



302 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

The young Raja, however, was obdurate, and at last, failing 
to obtain satisfaction, it was resolved to dispossess him of his 
territory in the plains. 

On the 15th March 1835 Captain Lister, with two com- 
panies of the Sylhet Light Infantry, took formal possession 
of Jaintiapur and issued a proclamation announcing the 
annexation of the Jaintia parganas to British territory. A 
few weeks later Gobha, in the Nowgong district, was 
similarly taken over by a detachment of the Assam Light 
Infantry. The only income derived by the Raja from his 
possessions in the hills was one he-goat yearly from each 
village, with a small quantity of parched rice and firewood 
for his annual religious ceremonies ; the villagers were also 
bound to cultivate the crown lands. On his territory in 
the plains being annexed, the Raja professed himself un- 
willing to retain that in the hills, and so this also passed into 
the hands of the British. It was placed under the Poli- 
tical Officer of the Khasi hills, and the direct management 
was vested in an Assistant who was stationed at Jowai. The 
hillmen, or Syntengs, were interfered with as little as 
possible ; no revenue was demanded from them and, although 
heinous offences were tried by the Political Agent or his 
Assistant, petty cases, both civil and criminal, were dealt 
with by the local headmen, of whom there were nineteen in all, 
viz., fifteen dolois and four sarddrg. Act VI of 1835 was 
passed to provide for the judicial control of the Khasi and 
Jaintia hills. 

The deposed Raja accepted a pension of Rs. 500 a month 

and retired to Sylhet, where the whole of his personal property, 

valued at more than a lakh and a half of rupees, was made 

over to him. 

Condition At the time of the annexation of the Jaintia parganas 

of people £ nere was a considerable trade in cotton, iron ore, wax, ivory 

parganas an ^ other articles, which were brought down from the hills 

in 1835. a nd exchanged for salt, tobacco, rice and goats, but business 

was much restricted by injudicious monopolies and heavy 

transit dues. Moreover, very little money was in circulation, 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 303 

and nearly all transactions were by means of barter ; " the 
labourer mostly satisfied the demand against him with labour 
and the producer with produce." All rents were paid in kind, 
and one of the difficulties experienced by the early British 
administrators of the tract lay in the substitution of money 
for produce rents. Under the native administration it had 
been the custom to remunerate the official staff by grants of 
service lands. Civil suits and criminal cases were referred to 
a mantri or other official, who after hearing the parties and 
their witnesses, made a verbal report to the Raja. The latter, 
on all important occasions, was under the necessity of con- 
sulting the Queen Mother, the officers of State and the 
dolois, or chiefs of districts. In appointing the latter he had 
to consider the wishes of the people, who were of a very 
independent and rather turbulent disposition.* 

We have seen that, in the beginning of 1832, Purandar Annexa- 
Singh was put in possession of the whole of Upper Assam, p 0n °*. 
except Matak and Sadiya, on condition of his paying a Singh's 

vearlv tribute of half a lakh of rupees. In less than three domi " 

moiis 
years he began to make default in his payments and begged 

for a considerable reduction in the amount which he had 
agreed to pay. Enquiry showed that, owing to mismanage- 
ment and the general system of corruption which he apparently 
encouraged, his revenues had fallen to such an extent that he 
would soon be incapable of paying even one-half of the stipu- 
lated amount. His subjects were oppressed and misgoverned, 
and his rule was very distasteful to the bulk of the popula- 
tion^ His administration haviug proved a failure in all 
respects, he was deposed and pensioned in October 1838, and 
his territories were placed once more under the direct 
administration of British officers. They were formed into two 
districts, viz., Sibpur or Sibsagar (so called from the place 
selected as the district head -quarters) which included the tract 
south of the old course of the Brahmaputra, and Lakhimpur, 

* This account is taken from a f Report by Captain Fisher 

Report by the Commissioner of quoted in Pemberton's Eastern 
Pacca, made in the year 1835, Frontier, page 220, 



304- CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

or the part north of the same river. The formal proclamation 
giving effect to these arrangements was issued in 1839.* 

McCosh, writing a year previously, gives the following 
description of this parody on royalty : — 

" The present representative of this once powerful dynasty (Svargadeo 
or Lord of Heaven, as he is pleased to call himself) now resides 
at Jorhat in noisy pomp and tawdry splendour ; his resources limited to 
that of a zamindar ; his numerous nobility reduced to beggary or to 
exist upon bribery and corruption ; and his kingly court (for he still 
maintains his regal dignity) more resembling the parade of a com- 
pany of strolling players than anything imposing or sovereign." 

andof The old Sadiya Khowa Gohain died in 1835 and was 

succeeded by his son. About the same time there was a 
fresh immigration of Khamtis from beyond the border. 
Their advent was welcomed by the British authorities, 
who still regarded a fresh Burmese invasion as possible , 
and whose policy it was to impede it by the settlement of 
friendly warlike tribes along the route which they would have 
to follow. A dispute arose between the new Sadiya Khowa 
Gohain and the Bar Senapati regarding a certain tract 
of land. The British officer at Sadiya, to prevent a collision, 
attached it and told the disputants to appear before him and 
urge their respective claims. The Sadiya Khowa Gohain, in 
defiance of this order, took forcible possession and refused to 
give it up when called upon to do so ; his post was accordingly 
abolished, and he was removed to another part of the province. 
The Khamtis themselves were left untaxed, and were still 
allowed to manage their private affairs under their own 
chiefs. But they were deprived of their control over the 
local Assamese, the jurisdiction over whom was thenceforth 
exercised by the Political officer at Sadiya. Their slaves were 
also released, and they suspected the Government of a design 
to tax them and to lower their status to that of the ordinary 
Assamese. Thus, although they shortly afterwards assisted 
in the operations against the Singphos, as a reward for which 
their late chief was permitted to return from exile, they 

* In 1853 the pensions pay- families still exceeded Ks. 12,000 a 
able to various Ahom noble month, 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 305 

remained thenceforth in a state of simmering' discontent. In 
January 1839, this culminated in a treacherous night attack 
on the British garrison at Sadiya. Colonel White, the Politi- 
cal Agent, was killed, and eighty others were killed or 
wounded. A punitive force was at once despatched to Sadiya. 
The insurgents sought refuge amongst the Mishmis. They 
were followed up and repeated defeats were inflicted on them ; 
and in December 1843, the last of the rebels made their 
submission. Some were deported to Narayanpur, on the 
Dikrang, in the western part of the district, and others were 
settled above Sadiya town to form a screen between the 
Assamese and the Mishmis. 

The Bar Senapati, or chief of the Matak country, after and of 
nominating his second son, known as the Maju Goham, tte ^ ta ^ 
to succeed him, died in 1839. The specially favourable 
arrangements sanctioned by the British Government, for the 
term of his own life only, thus came to an end. It was 
proposed to resume a portion of the tract, the inhabitants of 
which had asked to be placed under British rule, and, in 
the remaining portion, to take a fresh count of the popula- 
tion, and to fix the Government share of the revenue accord- 
ing to the scale originally proposed by David Scott. 
These terms were rejected by the Maju Gohain ; they were 
then offered to other members of his family, who also refused 
to accept them, whereupon the British representative, 
Captain Vetch, assumed direct management of the entire 
country. This measure was subsequently approved by the 
Governor General. 

Pensions aggregating seven thousand rupees a year, or 
considerably more than half the total revenue of the estate, 
were awarded to the late Senapati's family, and several 
members of it were given appointments under Government. 

In 1842 a proclamation was issued announcing the 
incorporation of Matak and Sadiya in British territory.* 
Both tracts were added to the Lakhimpur district, the 

* Calcutta Gazette, 1842, page 683. v 



306 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

head-quarters of which were transferred to Dibrugarh in the 
Matak country. From this time the Principal Assistant 
at Dibrugarh or, as we should now call him, the Deputy 
Commissioner, has generally performed the duties of Political 
Agent,* with the help, since 1882, of an Assistant Political 
Officer stationed at Sadiya. 
Forma- A second Sebundy regiment of six companies, consisting 

second partly of Rabhas and Kacharis from Lower Assam and partly 
Sebundy of Doaniyas, or Singpho half-breeds, and other local men 
regiment. £ ] ow cas ^ was YB) [ se ^ f or the defence of the newly-acquired 
territory. Its head-quarters were at Rangpur, and it occupied 
the outposts on the Matak frontier. 
Subse- There were now three regiments in the Brahmaputra 

history of va ^ e y 5 the Assam Light Infantry with head-quarters at 
Assam Sibsagar, and the two Sebundy corps, which were stationed at 
ments Gauhati and Rangpur respectively. The last mentioned was 
disbanded in 1844. In the same year, the Lower Assam 
Sebundy corps was transferred into a regular regiment, known 
as the 2nd Assam, or Kamrup, Light Infantry, and later as 
the 43rd Gurkha Rifles. The 1st Assam Light Infantry, 
which was afterwards moved to Dibrugarh, developed into 
the 42nd Gurkha Rifles, and the Sylhet Light Infantry 
became the 44th ; according to the recent renumbering of 
the regiments of the Indian Army, the 42nd, 43rd and 44th 
regiments have become respectively the 6th, 7th and 8th 
Gurkha Rifles. 
Annexa- In 1844 the Government of India sanctioned an applica- 

tion of -fcion by Tularam Senapati, who died soon afterwards, to trans- 
Senapati's ^ er the management of his estate to his two sons, Nokul Ram 
country. Barman and Brijnath Barman. They were, however, quite un- 
equal to the task. They quarrelled among themselves, became 
involved in debt and incurred the enmity of the Angami 
Nagas, who made frequent raids on the Kachari villages, 

* On one occasion at least the tinued for some years to be the 

duties of Political Agent were Political Agent for Sadiya. This 

discharged by another officer ; and anomalous arrangement was criti- 

Major Vetch, after his transfer cized by Mill in his well-known 

from Lakhimpur to Kamrup, con- report of 1854. 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 807 

which the new managers were unable to prevent. In one of 
these raids eighty-six persons were killed and many more were 
carried off others as slaves. At last, in 1854, the tract 
was resumed and added to the North Cachar sub-division, 
the head-quarters of which were then at Asalu, and which, 
since 18.39, had been an appanage of the Nowgong district. 
When the Naga hills district was constituted in 1866, this 
sub-division was closed and the territory included in it was 
distributed amongst the surrounding districts. It was 
re-established in 1880 and placed in charge of a junior police 
officer, who was stationed, first at Gun jong and subsequently 
at Haflong. Liberal pensions were given to the surviving 
members of Tularam's family. 

The strip of level country at the foot of the Himalayas, Recovery 
from Darrang westwards, is divided off in native parlance into ^ t he 
a series of Duars, or "doors," through which access is gained borderin°- 
to the various passes into the hills. In the direction of on Bhutan 
Bhutan there were eighteen of these Duars, eleven on the 
frontier of Bengal and Goalpara, and seven, with an area of 
sixteen hundred square miles, in the north of Kamrup and 
Darrang. The former had been annexed by the Bhutias long 
before the British came into possession of Bengal, but the latter 
were held by the Ahoms until Gaurinath's reign, when they 
were surrendered to the Bhutias in consideration of an annual 
tribute'of Rs. 4,785. It was agreed that, so long as this sum 
was paid, the Kamrup Duars were to remain permanently 
with the Bhutias, while those in Darrang were to be 
managed jointly, the Ahoms holding them from July to 
November, and the Bhutias, for the remaining eight months 
of the year. After the British conquest the tribute due by 
the Bhutias gradually fell into arrears, and frequent outrages 
and dacoities were committed in British territory. Various 
punitive measures were taken, but without lasting result. 
It was therefore decided, in 184*1, to take over the whole of 
this section of the Duars, and a yearly payment of Rs. 10,000, 
or one-third of the estimated revenue at the time, was paid 
to the Bhutan authorities in their stead. This sum was 

v 2 



308 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 



Commu- 
tation of 
blackmail 
levied by 
Akas and 
Dan as. 



The 

southern 
Duars of 
Kamrup. 



subsequently merged in one of Rs. 25,000, which was sanctioned 
after the Bhutan War of 1864, when the Duars north of 
Goalpara and Koch Bihar were also annexed. Payment is 
now made to the Bhutan representatives by the Commis- 
sioner of Rajshahi at Buxa. East of the Bhutan Duars of 
Darrang is another, known as the Koriapara Duar, which 
was held by certain Bhutia chiefs called Sat Rajas, whose 
hills form part of the province of Towang, an outlying 
dependency of Lhassa. Here also, there were numerous 
outrages and disputes until 1843, when the local chiefs ceded 
the Duar in return for an annual payment of Rs. 5,000, or 
one-third of the supposed revenue, which is handed over to 
them every year at the time of the Udalguri fair. 

The same weakness of the central administration which 
had led to the abandonment of the above Duars resulted further 
east in the acknowledgment of the right of certain small 
tribes of independent Bhutias, and of the Aka and Dana hill 
men, to levy posa, or tribute, in certain villages along the foot 
of their hills. The Hazarikhowa Akas were thus permitted 
to levy from each house " one portion of a female dress, one 
bundle of cotton thread and one cotton handkerchief/* and 
the rights of the other tribes were similarly defined. The 
inconvenience of permitting these savages to descend annu- 
ally upon the cultivated lands, for the purpose of collecting 
their dues, was very soon felt to be unbearable, and every 
effort was made to induce them to commute their claims for 
a fixed money payment. This was eventually done. At the 
present time a sum of Rs. 1,740 is paid annually to the Bhutias 
of Char Duar ; Rs. 146 to the Thebengia Bhutias j Rs. 700 to 
the Akas ; Rs. 4,130 to the Dafias j and Rs. 1,118 to the Miris. 

As the Bhutias in the north, so also the Khasis in the 
south, of Kamrup had gradually established themselves in 
the plains ; and the Ahom Viceroy at Gauhati, finding that 
he was unable to oust them, had contented himself with 
receiving a formal acknowledgment of the Ahom supremacy. 
This, however, meant very little beyond the exaction of as 
large a sum as possible on the accession of a new chief and 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 309 

the supply of paths when required for the public service. In 
other respects the local chiefs were virtually independent ; and 
they exercised criminal jurisdiction, and even made war on 
one another, with perfect impunity, or at the worst, subject to 
the payment of a fine as hush-money. On the advent of the 
British these proceedings were speedily put a stop to, but, in 
order to conciliate the chiefs as far as possible, a separate 
court was established for the trial of civil and criminal cases, 
composed of the chiefs themselves and a few of their princi- 
pal functionaries. In lieu of feudal service, and of the 
charges formerly payable by new chiefs at the time of their 
accession, a moderate land assessment was introduced. The 
settlement was made with the chiefs, who were given a large 
share of the net profits, amounting in some cases to fifty per 
cent. Few of them, however, possessed any aptitude for 
business, and they soon fell into arrears ; this led eventually 
to the sequestration of their estates. The special court 
mentioned above was abolished after the extension of the 
Criminal Procedure Code to the province. 

The people whom we call Nagas are known to the The 
Assamese as Naga ; they belong to a diversity of tribes, each asas * 
speaking its own language and calling itself by a distinctive 
name. The collective designation by which they are known 
to the Assamese seems to be derived, as suggested by Hol- 
combe and Peal, from noh (cf. Sanskrit Loha) which means 
" folk w in some of the tribal dialects. When strange parties 
meet in the plains, they are said to ask each other Tern noh e 
or noh e, meaning a what folk are you." The word is 
also found in village names, such as Nokpan, " people of 
the tree," and Nokrang, "people of the sky." In this 
connection, it is worth noting that the Khonds call them- 
selves "Kui Loka" and the Oraons " Ku Nok." The 
lengthening of the first vowel sound in the English render- 
ing of the word " Naga " is probably due to the old idea that 
it connoted snake worship. 

The hilly tract inhabited by the various tribes known to Gradual 
us collectively as Nagas had never been subjugated by the tion of" 



310 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

the Ngga Ahoms, and it was no part o£ the British policy to absorb it. 
Pemberton and Jenkins marched across the hills from Manipur 
to Nowgong, but, as it appeared that the opposition of the 
tribesmen would throw great difficulties in the way of 
maintaining communications by this route, it was decided 
to leave them to their own devices. Those on the Sibsagar 
and Lakhimpur frontier, who were accustomed to trade in 
the plains, were easily brought 'to book for any misdemean- 
ours they might commit by the simple expedient of closing 
the passes against them. 

The more turbulent Angamis were less amenable. For 
some years it was the practice to look to Tularam and the Raja 
of Manipur to exact reparation for raids committed by them, 
and the tendency was to encourage the latter to extend his 
dominion over the whole area between the Doyang and 
the Dhansiri. In a treaty executed with Gambhir Singh in 
1833, it was stipulated that " in the event of anything hap- 
pening on the eastern frontier of the British territories, the 
Raja will, when required, assist the British Government with 
a portion of his troops ." This policy proving a failure, it 
was abandoned in favour of one of repression by our own 
troops ; and, between the years 1835 and 1851, ten military 
expeditions were led into the hills. After the expedition of 
1851, when severe punishment was meted out to the offend- 
ing hillmen, it was decided to try the combined effect of non- 
interference in their internal quarrels, of encouraging trade 
when they behaved well, and of shutting them out from the 
neighbouring markets when they gave trouble. The first year 
after the inauguration of this policy witnessed twenty-two 
raids, in which 178 persons were killed, wounded or carried off. 
In 1854 an officer was posted to Asalu and a line of frontier 
outposts was established, but they proved of very little use 
and raids continued to be of frequent occurrence. 

At last, in 1866, it was resolved to take possession of the 
Angami country and reclaim its inhabitants from savagery. 
This tract and the watershed of the Doyang were accord- 
ingly formed into a district with head-quarters at Samaguting ; 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 311 

but in 1878 this place was abandoned in favour of Kohima. 
The object in view was to protect the low land from the 
incursions of the Nagas. It was not desired to extend British 
rule into the interior, but when a footing in the hills had once 
been obtained, further territorial expansion became almost 
inevitable. In 1875 the country of the Lhota Nagas, who, 
on several occasions, had attacked survey parties, was annexed, 
and a British officer was posted at Wokha. In 1889, the 
Ao country also was incorporated, with the full concurrence 
of the people, who had claimed protection against the 
onslaughts of the more warlike tribes from across the Dikhu. 
The tendency of the local officers is now to extend their 
control to the trans-Dikhu tribes, and to repress the system 
of head-hunting and of raids and counter-raids which at 
present prevails in that unhappy tract, but the higher 
authorities have declared against any further extension of 
our responsibilities in this direction. The Deputy Commis- 
sioner is, however, authorized to exercise political control over 
the Eastern Angamis and Semas beyond the south-eastern 
boundary of his district, by means of an annual tour, in 
the course of which he enquires into and settles their 
inter-tribal disputes. 

After the formation of the new district, the Angamis 
gave no trouble until 1877, when they attacked a Kacha 
Naga village. The people of the offending village refused 
to surrender the raiders, and their village was, there- 
fore, burnt. In October 1878, a more serious outbreak 
occurred. Mr. Damant, the Political Officer, was shot as 
he was attempting to enter the village of Khonoma, and 
some of his escort were also killed or wounded.* The 
Angamis then rose in a body and, advancing against Kohima, 
invested it for eleven days. The garrison was reduced to 
great straits for want of food and water, but Colonel (after- 
wards Sir James) Johnstone arrived in the nick of time with 

♦This was the third officer in fight with the Lhota Nagas in 1876 

succession, in charge of these hills, and Mr. Carnegy was accidentally 

to " meet with a violent death. shot by his sentry in 1877. 
Captain Butler had been killed in a 



312 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

a force of 2,000 troops, supplied to him by the Raja of Mani- 
pur, and raised the siege. A campaign against the Angamis 
ensued, in the course of which every one of the thirteen 
villages which had entered into the hostile coalition was 
either occupied or destroyed. They then submitted and 
agreed to pay revenue, to supply labour when required, 
and to appoint for each village a headman, who should be 
responsible for good order and for carrying out the wishes 
of Government. 

Since that date steady progress has been made in the 
establishment of peace and good order, and in the quiet submis- 
sion of the Nagas to British rule ; blood feuds and head hunt- 
ing now survive only in the memory of the older generation 
which is rapidly passing away, and all disputes that cannot 
be settled by the village elders are brought before the local 
officers for adjudication. 
Introduc- We have seen that the Garo hills were treated as part of 
British Goalpara during the first few years of British rule. At 
rule in this time the Garos were a terror to the people of the plains. 
the aro rpj^ gjjjgfg or za mindars of the marches were expected 
to restrain their incursions, but it was soon found that their 
tyranny and exactions were the chief cause of the raids. 
In order to promote the growth of order and civilization, 
it was decided to place the whole tract under a special Civil 
Commissioner. This officer took into his own hand the 
collection of the rents claimed by the zamindars from 
the Garo villages and abolished the duties levied by them 
on the hill produce. For the latter they were paid compen- 
sation, Government recouping itself by means of a special 
house assessment on the Garo villages. For many years 
a policy of non-interference with the hillmen was followed, 
but without much success. The tributary Garos were most 
irregular in paying the promised tribute, and those of the 
interior committed constant raids, which were followed either 
by expeditions or by a blockade of the submontane marts. 
These measures having proved quite ineffectual, it was decided 
to appoint an officer to the charge of the hills ; and, in 1869, 



CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 313 

they were formed into a separate district with head-quarters 
at Tura. This step was rewarded with immediate success, 
so far as the villages within the administered area were con- 
cerned, but some of the more remote villages still remained 
uncontrolled. In 1871 and 1872 the latter gave some trouble 
by attacking surveyors and raiding on some protected Garo 
villages. It was, therefore, decided to bring them also under 
subjection, and this was done without any difficulty in the 
cold season of 1872-73. Three detachments of police marched 
through the country and easily overbore all resistance ; 
responsible headmen were appointed, the heads taken in recent 
raids were surrendered, and peaceful administration was estab- 
lished throughout the district. 

At the earliest time of which we have any knowledge the The 
hills lying to the south of the Surma valley were inhabited ^ 
by various tribes known to the Bengalis by the generic 
name of Kuki. During the early years of the last century 
these were gradually driven northwards into the plains of 
Cachar by the Lushais, who made their appearance on this 
frontier about the year 1840. The Lushais committed their 
first raid in 1849, and the punitive expedition which followed 
was so successful that they gave no further trouble until 
1868, when a series of outrages led to an abortive expedition, 
which in its turn was followed by further raids. In 1871-72 
two columns marched through the hills and met with entire 
success. From that time forward no further breaches of the 
peace occurred on the Assam frontier. In 1889, however, a 
raid was made on the Chittagong border and a number of 
captives were taken. Their release being demanded and 
refused, troops again entered the country. The captives were 
rescued and the chiefs who were responsible for the outrage 
were arrested. It was now decided to put down raids once 
for all by establishing military outposts at Aijal and 
Changsil, in the northern portion of the hills, and at 
Lungleh, in the southern. Political officers were posted to 
Aijal and Lungleh, and the Lushais appeared to have accepted 
the situation when, without any warning, those near Aijal 



314 CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE. 

rose in a body and murdered Captain Browne, the Political 
Officer, who was marching", practically unattended, from that 
place to Changsil. In less than two months, the outbreak 
had been suppressed and the ringleaders arrested and deported. 
Early in 1892 there was an insurrection of the Eastern 
Lushais, but it was quelled without much trouble. From this 
time no further opposition was offered, and the people have 
now settled down quietly as peaceable and law-abiding 
British subjects. 

The southern portion of the hills was at first administered 
by the Bengal Government and the northern by the Chief 
Commissioner of Assam, but, on the 1st April 1898, the two 
tracts were amalgamated and placed under the Assam 
Administration. The whole area is now in charge of a single 
officer, who is styled the Superintendent of the Lushai hills. 
The internal management of the villages is left to the chiefs 
subject to the general control of the Superintendent and his 
assistants, in whom the administration of civil and criminal 
justice is vested. 



RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 315 



CHAPTER XVI. 

RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 

This work would be incomplete if it did not contain 
some account of the relations of the British Government 
with the various hill tribes along the frontier, other than 
those already mentioned. To deal with this subject at all 
fully would take up far more space than could be spared. 
Moreover, a complete account down to the year 1883 has 
already been compiled.* In the present chapter, therefore, 
the narrative will be confined to a brief notice of the more 
noteworthy episodes in the history of this frontier. 

The only event of importance in our relations with Bhutias. 
the Bhutias is the war of 1864 — 66 which has been 
alluded to in the last chapter. The quarrel arose on the 
Bengal section of the Bhutan frontier, but, when war was 
declared, operations were undertaken on the Assam side also. 
Four columns advanced into the lower hills, viz., two from 
Jalpaiguri in Bengal, one from Goalpara, which occupied 
Bissengiri, and one from Gauhati, which took possession 
of Diwangiri. At first no serious resistance was encountered ; 
and orders had actually been issued permanently to 
annex the Duars that still remained in the hands of the 
Bhutias, and to break up the field force when, suddenly, almost 
simultaneous attacks were made on the different posts. These 
were repulsed with ease, except at Diwangiri, where the 
defenders suffered some loss, and were cut off from their 
water-supply and from communication with the plains. The 
garrison of this post had been reduced to six companies with 
two guns and some sappers. Colonel Campbell, who was in 

* History of the Relations Sir Alexander Mackenzie, printed 

of Government with the Hill in Calcutta in 1884 by the Govern- 

Tribes of the North-Eastern ment of India Press. 
Frontier of Bengal, by the late 



316 RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 

command, considered that this force was not strong enough 
to dislodge its assailants, and determined to retreat. He 
evacuated Diwangiri at night, but the main column lost its 
way in the darkness, and a panic set in, in which the guns 
and many of the wounded were abandoned and all the bag- 
gage was lost. Keinforcements were hastily sent up from 
India and, in less than two months, Diwangiri was retaken, 
with very few casualties on our side, but with excessive and 
needless slaughter of the Bhutias who were found within 
the post. This practically concluded the war, and since 
that time the Bhutias have given no serious trouble. 
Occasional acts of violence have been committed, but they 
have been the work of individuals, and reparation has, when 
insisted on, been made by the higher authorities. 
Akas. The Akas, or Hrusso as they call themselves, are divided 

into two sections, which are known to the Assamese as the 
Hazari Khowas, or taxers of [a thousand hearths, and the 
Kopaschors, or cotton thieves. The commutation of their 
exactions for a fixed money payment has already been 
described. For many years the Kopaschor chief, Tangi or 
Tagi Raja, committed numerous robberies and murders in 
the plains. In 1829 he was captured and imprisoned 
in the Gauhati jail. He was released in 1832, when he im- 
mediately resumed his attacks ; and three years later he 
massacred the inhabitants of the British village and police out- 
post of Balipara. He continued his depredations till 1842 
when he submitted, accepted a small pension, and agreed to 
take up his residence in the plains. The demarcation of 
the boundary in 1874-75 caused some discontent amongst the 
Akas, but it was not until 1883 that they again gave any real 
trouble. In that year the Kopaschor chiefs, Medhi and 
Chandi, carried off and detained several native officials. A 
punitive expedition occupied Medhi's village, and recovered the 
captives and some loot, which had also been taken, but it 
did not wait there long enough to force the chiefs to submit. 
A blockade of the frontier followed, but it was not until 1888 
that the chiefs came in and tendered their submission. 



RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 317 

The Daflas, who occupy the hills to the east of the Akas, Daflas. 
speak a dialect closely allied to that of the Abors and 
Miris. They committed frequent raids prior to 1852, when 
the <posa question was finally settled, but since then they 
have only twice broken the peace — in 1870 and 1872.* On 
both occasions their object was the pursuit of tribal quarrels, 
and not the plundering of alien inhabitants of the plains. 
As a punishment for the above raids a blockade was established. 
This proved ineffectual, and a military force was sent into the 
hills. The Daflas offered no active opposition, and, in the 
end, surrendered their captives. 

The Apa Tanangs or Ankas are an offshoot of the Daflas. A pa 
They occupy the valley of the Kali river, at the back of the Tanan » s - 
range of hills which forms the northern boundary of the 
North Lakhimpur sub-division. They were unknown to us 
until comparatively recent times. In 1S96 they committed a 
raid in British territory, killing two men and carrying off 
three captives. A punitive expedition made its way unopposed 
to their principal village and rescued the captives. 

The Miris are found, both in the plains, where they are Miris. 
peaceable British subjects, and also in the hills to the north, 
where also they are quiet and inoffensive. They act as a 
channel of communication with the Abors, and from this 
circumstance comes the name by which they are known in 
Assam, which means a " go-between." They have never 
given any trouble. 

The Abors, though speaking the same language, differ Abors. 
greatly from the Miris in character. They are the most ruth- 
less savages on the whole of the northern frontier, and the 

* Their raiding propensities Atom troops. They appear to have 

were by no means new, and in the meddled considerably in the internal 

days of Aurangzeb, Muhammad affairs of the A horns during 

Kasim wrote : M The Daflas are Gaurinath's reign, and in tbe nar- 

entirely independent of the Assam rative of Captain Welsh's expedi- 

Kaja and plunder tbe country con- tion, we read that at Kaliabar 

tiguous to their mountains when- Lieutenant Macgregor was intro- 

ever they find an opportunity." We duced to the " prinoipal men of the 

have already seen , how frequently Daflas, who had elected the Bar 

they came into collision with the Gohain as their chief." 



318 RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 

absence of population on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, 
from opposite Dibrugarh to Sacliya, is due chiefly to dread 
of their raids. Their designation in Assamese means 
a independent M as contrasted with bori, meaning subject. 
They seem to have remained on friendly terms with our officers 
until 1848, when Captain Vetch led a small force into the 
hills to rescue some kidnapped Kachari gold washers, and 
burnt a village as a punishment for a night attack on his 
camp. Several other raids followed, but the first serious 
outrage did not occur until 1858, when they destroyed a gold 
washers' village only six miles distant from Dibrugarh town. 
A punitive expedition which was sent against them was 
compelled to retreat, and a second one met with very scant 
success. The Abors, thus emboldened, took up a position 
threatening the plains. A third and stronger force entered the 
hills in 1859, and ejected them, and burnt a number of their 
villages. One section of the Abors then submitted, but another 
section was again on the war path in the following year* 
This led to the construction of a road along the frontier and 
the establishment of a line of outposts. The offenders, on see- 
ing these preparations, submitted. During the next few years 
agreements were concluded with the differeut Abor communi- 
ties, by which they were given an allowance of iron hoes, salt, 
rum, opium and tobacco so long as they remained on their 
good behaviour. There were no further outrages until 1889, 
when four Miris were decoyed across the frontier and murdered. 
For this a fine of twenty bison was imposed, and the frontier 
was blockaded pending payment, which was made in less 
than a year. The last disturbance was in 1893 when the 
Abors of all sections became hostile and attacked several 
parties of police. An expedition occupied the principal Bor 
Abor villages, after overcoming a good deal of resistance, and 
was followed by a blockade which lasted until 1900, when a 
general submission was made. 
Mishmig. The Mishmis inhabit the country between the Dibong and 

the Brabmakund. There are four main tribes, Chulikata, 
Digaru, Miju and Bebejia. In 1854, a French missionary 



RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 319 

reached the confines of Tibet by way of the Miju country,* 
but in the following year, when repeating the visit, he was 
murdered. The crime was punished by a brilliant feat of arms. 
Lieutenant Eden led a small body of twenty sepoys and forty 
Khamti volunteers with a few hill porters far into the hills, 
and, after forced marches for eight days in succession, sur- 
prised and captured the offending chief and his village. In 
spite of this, the years that followed witnessed frequent raids. 
In 1866 the expedient was tried of creating a militia by sup- 
plying arms to the local Khamtis and giving a monthly pay- 
ment of one rupee to all members of this tribe who would 
settle along this section of the frontier. This proved success- 
ful, and very little trouble has since been given by the 
Mishmis. Two small raids were reported in 1878. The cul- 
prits were pursued, but escaped, and no further action was 
taken. In 1899 the Bebejia Mishmis murdered three Khamtis 
and carried off several children. A force was despatched 
against them which, in the face of great natural difficulties, 
reached the guilty villages, burnt them, and recovered the 
captives. One of the raiders was subsequently given up, and 
was tried and executed at Sadiya. 

Our relations with the Khamtis have been dealt with at Khamtis. 
sufficient length in the last chapter, and it will suffice to 
add that, while those round Sadiya pay revenue and are 
subject in all respects to the jurisdiction of the local officers, 
those living on the Tengapani merely acknowledge allegiance 
to the British Government, and are exempt from taxation and 
from interference with their internal affairs. The number of 

* This visit disposed of the old Kultas, who are described as having 
idea that a Hindu race is to be attained a high degree of advance- 
found somewhere in this direction. ment and civilization." According 
This theory is expounded in the to the same writer, their power far 
following passage in Neufville's exceeded that of the Ahoms, and 
paper in the Asiatic Researches there was formerly communication 
for 1828 : — " The country to between the two States, 
the eastward of Bhot {sc. Tibet) In 1885 Mr. F. J. Needham, 
and North of Sadiya, extending C.I. E., and Captain B. H. Moles- 
on the plain beyond the moun- worth also penetrated to Tibet 
tains, is said to be possessed by a through the Miju country, 
powerful nation, called Kolitas or 



320 RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 

Khamtis in Sadiya is dwindling ; and at the time of the last 
census only 1,975 were enumerated there against an estimate 
of 3,930 in 1839. 
Singphos. The Singphos, who live, intermixed with the Khamtis, in 
the country watered by the Buri Dihing, the Noa Dihing and 
the Tengapani, which formerly belonged to the Ahoms, are 
merely an outlying section of their tribe. Their real home is in 
the hilly country between the Chindwin river and the Patkai, 
where they are called as Kakhyens. The name by which they 
are known on the Assam frontier is simply the tribal word for 
man. They made their appearance on the outskirts of 
Assam during the Moamaria rebellions. Their attacks on the 
Assamese and the subsequent release of their slaves by 
Captain Neufville have already been described. 

This measure struck a severe blow at their prosperity, and 
the feelings of resentment which it kindled led to a series 
of risings. The last took place in 1843, and was shared in, 
not only by all the Singphos on the Assam border and 
by others from the direction of Burma, but also by a 
certain number of Shans and Burmese. It was believed to 
have been fomented by the Tipam Raja, a scion of the 
Ahom royal family, whose sister had married the king of 
Burma, and who had been appointed by that monarch to be 
Governor of Hukong with, it was said, instructions to take 
advantage of any opportunity that might arise for invading 
Assam. No time was lost in marching troops against them. 
The war dragged on for months, but it ended in the capture 
of the chiefs who had instigated the rebellion, and in the 
complete submission of the Singphos. Since then they have 
shown no disposition to give trouble. Their pacific attitude 
in recent times is attributed by some to their now universal 
habit of eating excessive quantities of opium, which, it is 
said, has sapped their energy and robbed them of their old 
warlike proclivities. 
Eastern The Nagas of the Naga Hills district have already been 

noticed at sufficient length, but certain tribes sharing this 
designation are found further east, far beyond its 



RELATIONS WITH FRONTIER TRIBES. 321 

boundary. From the Dikhu to the Tirap, an affluent of the 
Buri Dihing, the Naga tribes along the frontier are distin- 
guished by the names of the passes through which they de- 
scend to the plains, such as Namsangia, Joboka, Tablungia, 
Assiringia, etc. They carry on a considerable trade in cotton 
and other hill produce, which they exchange for salt and 
rice ; and they are easily kept in order by preventing them 
from visiting the plains, when guilty of misconduct, until 
reparation has been made. They quarrel amongst them- 
selves, but it has never been our policy to meddle with their 
domestic feuds. Behind them are other tribes of whom we 
have little knowledge, except that some of them come down 
in the winter months to work on the tea gardens. Further 
east, as far as the Patkai, there are various Naga tribes who 
are in complete subjection to the Singphos, and who seem to 
be quite harmless and inoffensive. 



w 



322 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

The The great Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 left Assam almost 

(a? Surma un ^ oucne( l. The situation was at times by no means free 
valley. from danger ; and the comparative immunity which this part 
of India enjoyed was due very largely to the watchfulness 
and resource displayed by the civil and military officers on 
the spot. Shortly before the first outbreak Mr. Allen, of 
the Board of Revenue, had been deputed to visit the Khasi 
and Jaintia hills ; and the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Frederick 
Halliday, took advantage of his presence at Cherrapunji, 
then the capital of that district, to place him temporarily 
in charge of the Eastern Frontier, including Sylhet and 
Cachar. Exaggerated stories of the fall of the British 
power caused some excitement amongst the Khasi chiefs, 
and the ex-Raja of Jaintia began to intrigue with some 
of them with a view to the recovery of his lost possessions. 
Mr. Allen thought that to cause his arrest would invest the 
matter with undue importance; he therefore contented 
himself with ordering him to reside in Sylhet town, where he 
would be under the eye of the British authorities. In 
November 1857, the three companies of the 34th Native 
Infantry stationed at Chittagong mutinied and, after burning 
their lines, breaking open the jail and plundering the treasury, 
marched in the direction of Comilla ; they then turned off 
into the jungles of Hill Tippera, whence they subsequently 
emerged in the south-east of the Sylhet district. Their 
intention was to push on, through the south of Cachar, into 
Manipur. As soon as Mr. Allen heard of their movements 
he determined to intercept them. Under his orders Major 
Byng, the Commandant of the Sylhet Light Infantry 
(now the 8th Gurkha Rifles), set out with about 160 men 
and reached Pertabgarh, some eighty miles distant, in the 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 323 

short space of thirty-six hours. Then, hearing that the 
rebels were expected shortly to pass through Latu, twenty- 
eight miles away, he made a night march and arrived there 
early next morning. The rebels, numbering about two 
hundred, came up soon afterwards. They tried by taunts and 
solicitations to pervert the Hindustanis, who formed half the 
detachment, but the only answer they received was a 
steady fire, which put them to flight with a loss of twenty- 
six killed. Major Byng was also killed. His successor in the 
command did not think it advisable to follow them into 
the jungle, but a few days later, after entering the Cachar 
district, they were attacked by another detachment of the 
Sylhet Light Infantry under Lieutenant Ross, and were again 
put to flight. They still headed for Manipur, and were 
joined by some Manipuri princes, pretenders to the Raj, 
with a few followers. They were repeatedly attacked, both 
by the regular troops and by Kuki scouts, who received a 
reward for each mutineer whom they killed ; and at last, 
of the whole number that left Chittagong, only three or 
four escaped death or capture. 

When the news first reached Calcutta of the arrival 
of the mutineers in Sylhet, several companies of a British 
regiment were sent thither, but they returned to Dacca as 
soon as it was found that the local regiment was thoroughly 
loyal. The services of the latter and of Mr. Allen were 
repeatedly acknowledged by the Lieutenant-Governor. 

There was a large number of Hindustani sepoys in (£) Brah- 
the 1st Assam Light Infantry, then stationed at Dibrugarh, as ^aputra 
well as in a local artillery corps. There was also a consider- 
able, though smaller, number of these upcountry men in the 
2nd Assam Light Infantry which was quartered at Gauhati. 
In September 1857 an uneasy feeling began to display itself 
among the men of the Dibrugarh regiment, owing to letters 
received by some of the Hindustani sepoys from Shahabad, 
where many of them had been recruited ; and some of them 
were found to have entered into a conspiracy with the Saring 
Raja, a scion of the Ahom royal family who resided at 

w 2 



324 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

Jorhat. Colonel Hannay, the Commandant, at once deprived 
the Hindustani members of the regiment o£ the opportunity 
for communication with each other, and for combination, 
by sending them to the small outlying outposts, while he 
concentrated in Dibrugarh the loyal Gurkhas and the 
hillmen attached to the corps. The Saring Raja was a 
mere boy, and a complete tool in the hands of his Dewan, 
Maniram Dutt, who was at this time in Calcutta. The Raja 
was placed under arrest and, on his house being searched, 
treasonable letters were discovered from Maniram. The latter 
was arrested in Calcutta, and, after being detained there 
for some weeks, he was sent up to Assam, where he was 
tried, convicted and executed. Four other ringleaders in the 
plot were placed on their trial, of whom one was hanged and 
three were sentenced to long terms of transportation. When 
tidings of the conspiracy reached Calcutta, three companies 
of the naval brigade, each numbering a hundred men, were 
sent in succession to Gauhaili. These prompt measures pre- 
vented further trouble. The thanks of Government were 
conveyed to all concerned, including Colonel Jenkins, the 
Commissioner, Captains Bivar and Holroyd, the Principal 
Assistants of Dibrugarh and Sibsagar, and Colonel Hannay, 
the Commandant of the 1st Assam Light Infantry. 
The Jain- Mr. Allen, the Member of the Board of Revenue, whose 
tia rebel- y^ £ fa e Khasi and Jaintia hills has already been alluded to, 
1860—62. came to the conclusion that the Syntengs should be required to 
contribute something to the general revenues in acknowledg- 
ment of the supremacy of the Government. He was of opinion 
that a light and judicious taxation would conduce to the pre- 
servation of tranquillity and good order in the Jaintia hills, 
and referred, as an example, to the Hos of Singbhum who, it 
was asserted, by virtue of a moderate taxation, had become 
less turbulent and aggressive, and more thrifty, diligent and 
submissive to the authorities. His advice was followed, and 
in 1860 a house-tax was imposed. A few months later the 
hillmen broke out in open rebellion, but a large force of troops 
was at hand, and before the revolt could make any head, it 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 325 

was stamped out, and the villagers were awed into apparent 
submission. Measures were then taken for the improve- 
ment of the administration. The powers of the dolois were 
increased, but they" were made liable to dismissal for miscon- 
duct, and were required to report all criminal offences to the 
police. 

Unfortunately, at this juncture, it was decided that the 
Jaintia hills were to be treated in the same way as other 
parts of British India in respect of the levy of the new 
income-tax, and 310 persons, including 1 all the leaders of the 
people, were assessed with an aggregate tax of Rs. 1,259. It 
was paid the first year without overt opposition, but the 
discontent which it engendered, following closely on the 
imposition of the house-tax, coupled with rumours of further 
imposts and the offensive conduct of the police, led to a fresh 
outbreak in January 1862. The police station at Jowai 
was burnt to the ground ; the garrison of sepoys was besieged, 
and all show of British authority was swept away. In 
order to quell the revolt, two regiments of Sikhs and an 
elephant battery were moved into the hills, but the Syntengs, 
though armed only with bows and arrows, fought bravely for 
their independence. Their chief defence, like that of most 
tribes on this frontier, consisted in a series of stockades, one 
behind the other ; and the paths leading to their villages 
were thickly planted with pdnjzs, or little bamboo spikes, 
stuck into the ground like caltrops. 

The operations were tedious and harassing. At the end 
of four months the rebellion seemed to have been put down, 
but it soon broke out again with greater fury than before ; 
and it was not until November 1863, when every glen and 
jungle had been searched out by our troops and police, that 
the last of the insurgent leaders surrendered and the pacifi- 
cation of the hills was completed. It was decided that the 
house-tax should be retained, but in other respects everything 
possible was done to make the Syntengs contented with 
British rule. Roads were constructed ; schools were opened ; 
the interference of the regular police was reduced to a 



326 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

minimum ; the people were given the right to elect their 
dolois, and to form panchayats for the trial of civil and criminal 
cases ; and lastly, the European officer stationed at Jowai 
was required to qualify in the Khasi language and to visit 
every village in his jurisdiction at least once a year. 
Prohibi- The inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley were for- 

tion of merly addicted to the use of opium to a degree unknown 
cultiva- anywhere else in India. The poppy was grown by the 
tion. people themselves. When the heads had reached the proper 
size, diagonal incisions were made and the juice was collected 
on strips of cloth, about two inches broad, which, when fully 
saturated and dried, were rolled up in little bundles and 
kept till required for use. It is not known when the drug 
was first introduced into Assam. In a report written for 
Mill by the <?#-Dewan of Raja Purandar Singh, it is said 
that it was first cultivated in the reign of Raja Lakshmi 
Singh, but that the area sown with it was strictly limited 
until the Burmese overthrew the old Ahom institutions. 
We know, however, that it was already in fairly common 
use in 1793, when Captain Welsh found the Raja, Gaurinath, 
so completely abandoned to the opium habit that he was often 
quite incapacitated for the transaction of public business. 
A few years later David Scott remarked on the enormous 
quantity of opium consumed by the inhabitants. The wide- 
spread and immoderate consumption of the drug was noticed 
by Robinson and other writers, including Mill, who, in 1853, 
said that " three-fourths of the population are opium-eaters, 
and men, women and children alike use the drug." Mill 
held that its excessive use was the greatest barrier to improve- 
ment which it was within the power of Government to 
remove, and he quoted with approval the opinion of a late 
Judicial Commissioner of Assam u that something should be 
done to check the immoderate use of the drug, and to rescue 
at least the rising generation from indulgence in a luxury 
which destroys the constitution, enfeebles the mind and 
paralyzes industry." 

Although convinced of its injurious effects, when taken in 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 327 

excess, Mill was by no means disposed to prevent the people 
from having 1 any opium at all. " Its use/ 3 he said, u has, with 
many, almost become a necessary of life, and in a damp 
climate like Assam, it is perhaps beneficial if taken with 
moderation." He recommended that, while home culti- 
vation should be prohibited, opium should be issued to all 
the treasuries in Assam, for sale to persons who might require 
it, at a price which, though not prohibitive, should be suffi- 
ciently high to act as a deterrent on its excessive consumption.* 
This plan was adopted, and it has met with marked success. 
During the forty years for which the system has been in 
vogue the price of the drug has gradually been raised until 
it is now more than double the amount originally fixed ; its 
consumption has steadily declined, and there are now com- 
paratively few men who take it to marked excess, while it is 
seldom, if ever, consumed by women or children. 

In 1853 the officers appointed to carry on the adminis- Staff of # 
tration of the Brahmaputra valley were the Commissioner, officers in 
who was assisted by a Deputy Commissioner, both stationed putra 
at Gauhati, a Principal (or Senior) Assistant in charge of Ya, " e J- 
each of the six districts, three junior assistants, and eight 
sub-assistants. There was also a separate civil judicial 
establishment consisting of a principal sadr amin, six sadr 
amins and seventeen munsifs. Four of the sub-assistants 
were stationed at the outlying sub-divisions of Barpeta, 
Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Golaghat. The pay of the 
Commissioner was Us. 2,000 per mensem ; four of the 
Principal Assistants drew Rs. 1,000, and two, Rs. 750 ; the 
junior assistants got Rs. 500 and the sub-assistants Rs. 350, 
The maximum remuneration of the sadr amins and 
munsifs appears to have been Rs. 300 and Rs. 100 a month, 
respectively. 

* The necessity for some such ventive measures that might be 

action had long been recognized ; taken in British territory, M it. being 

and in the treaty made with Puran- notorious that the quantity of 

dar Singh, when he was installed as opium produced in Assam is the 

Raja ot Upper Assam, it was stipu- cause of many miseries to the 

lated that he should adopt all pre- inhabitants." 



328 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

The Principal Assistants and two of the three junior 
assistants were military officers. These officers were for many- 
years recruited from the staff of the Assam regiments, 
to whom a pledge was given that they should have a 
preferential claim to the post of junior assistant, if duly 
qualified by character and knowledge of the local languages. 
In 1861 the designations of the officers serving under the 
Commissioner were changed; the Deputy Commissioner, 
whose powers were those of a District and Sessions Judge, 
was thenceforth known as the Judicial Commissioner ; the 
Principal Assistants became Deputy Commissioners ; the 
junior assistants, assistant commissioners * ; and the sub- 
assistants, extra assistant commissioners. The separate 
establishment of sadr amins and munsifs was abolished 
in 1872, when some of these officers were made extra 
assistant commissioners, and the officers of the ordinary 
district staff were invested with civil powers; the Deputy 
Commissioners became Sub- Judges and the assistant and 
extra assistant commissioners were invested with the powers 
of a munsif. At first several of the sub-divisional officers 
exercised the powers of Sub-Judge, but after a short time 
they were placed on the same footing as other assistant 
and extra assistant commissioners. 
Language For more than ten years after the annexation, Assam- 

C rfc ese was ^ e l an & ua g e °^ ^ ne Courts in the Brahma- 
putra valley proper, but it was then superseded by Bengali, 
which also became the medium of instruction in the schools. 
The natives protested loudly and often, but for a long time 
without any result. It was not until Sir George Campbell 
became Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal that Assamese 
was restored to the position which it ought never to have 
lost. This is not the place to review the old argument 
as to whether Assamese is a distinct language or merely 
a dialect of Bengali. It may be pointed out, however, that 
the possession or otherwise of a separate literature is 

* Amongst the natives the As- or were, until recently, often known 
sistant Commissioners are still, as u Junior Sahibs." 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 329 

generally regarded as one of the best tests to apply, and that, 
if this be taken as the criterion, Assamese is certainly entitled 
to rank as a separate language. Assamese is believed to have 
attained its present state of development independently of, 
and earlier than, Bengali ; and it is the speech of a distinct 
nationality which has always strenuously resisted the efforts 
which have been made to foist Bengali on it. 

In 1860 the general Codes of Civil and Criminal Proce- Extension 
dure were extended to the Brahmaputra valley, and in 1862 J^JJU* 
the Indian Penal Code came into force proprio vigore. These Assam, 
enactments superseded the special Assam Code, which had 
been drafted in 1837 and revised ten years later, but there 
was still great uncertainty as to the operation of the other 
laws in force in Bengal. These laws, as a rule, contained no 
local extent clause, and the general opinion of Assam officers 
seems to have been that they were not actually in force, and 
needed only to be followed in the spirit tl as far as applicable/' 
A very similar state of affairs prevailed in Cachar, but not 
in Sylhet, which at this time was regarded as an integral 
part of Bengal and, as such, was subject to all its laws and 
regulations. 

Since about 1870 all legislative enactments have been 
provided with a clause showing precisely how and where 
they are to operate. The difficulty in respect of the earlier 
enactments which did not contain these particulars was met 
in 1874 by the passing of two Acts — The Scheduled Districts 
Act, XIV of 1874, and the Laws Local Extent Act, XV 
of 1874. The latter enactment was designed to specify the 
laws which were in force in India generally, except in cer- 
tain backward tracts, which were described as " scheduled 
districts." The Scheduled Districts Act gave power to Gov- 
ernment to declare by notification in the Gazette what 
laws were in force in such districts, and to extend to them 
any enactments in force elsewhere which it might seem desir- 
able to bring into operation. The whole of Assam, including 
Sylhet, was classed as a " scheduled district " and all doubts 
as to what laws are, and what laws are not, in force, have 



330 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

now been removed by a series of notifications under the 
Scheduled Districts Act. The effect of these notifications 
has been to place the plains of Assam in much the same legal 
position as other parts of India. 
Exclusion ipj^ inhabitants of the hilly tracts, however, were not yet 
tracts suited for the elaborate legal rules laid down in the procedure 
from the codes and in several other enactments of the same class, and 
f^ ws they had to be governed in a simpler and more personal 

manner than those of the more civilized and longer-settled 
districts. It was, therefore, provided by the Frontier Tracts 
Regulation, II of 1880, that the operation of unsuitable laws 
might be barred in all the hill districts, in the North Cachar 
sub-division, the Mikir hills tract in Nowgong and the 
Dibrugarh frontier tract in Lakhimpur. By orders issued 
under this Regulation the tracts in question have been 
excluded from the operation of the enactments relating to 
criminal procedure,* stamps, court-fees, registration and 
transfer of property ; and a simpler system of administer- 
ing justice in civil and criminal matters has been prescribed 
by rules framed under the Scheduled Districts Act. In these 
tracts the Head of the Local Administration is the chief 
appellate authority in civil and criminal cases, and the 
High Court possesses no jurisdiction except in criminal 
cases against European British subjects ; the Deputy 
Commissioner exercises the combined powers of Judge and 
District Magistrate, and the Assistant and Extra Assistant 
Commissioners the powers of magistrates and munsifs ; petty 
cases, both civil and criminal, are dealt with by village 
tribunals, presided over by headmen chosen by the people 
themselves, whose procedure is free from all legal techni- 
calities. 

The Eastern Duars in Goalpara are also administered, in 
civil matters, in accordance with rules under the Scheduled 
Districts Act, in lieu of the Civil Procedure Code which is 
not in force there. 

* The Civil Procedure Code never was in f oroe iu the hill districts. 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 331 

The unrestricted intercourse which formerly existed between Inner 
British subjects in Assam and the wild tribes living across the g ^tion". 
frontier frequently led to quarrels and, sometimes, to serious dis- 
turbances. This was especially the case in connection with the 
traffic in rubber brought down by the hillmen, for which there 
was great competition. The opening out of tea gardens 
beyond the border-line also at times involved the Govern- 
ment in troublesome disputes with the frontier tribes in their 
vicinity. 

In order to prevent the recurrence of these difficulties, 
power was given to the local authorities by the Inner Line 
Regulation of 1873 to prohibit British subjects generally, or 
those of specified classes, from going beyond a certain line, 
laid down for the purpose, without a pass or license, issued by 
the Deputy Commissioner and containing such conditions as 
might seem necessary. As it was not always convenient to 
define the actual boundary of the British possessions, this 
line does not necessarily indicate the territorial frontier, but 
only the limits of the administered area ; it is known as the 
" Inner Line n and, being prescribed merely for the above 
purpose, it does not in any way decide the sovereignty of the 
territory beyond. Such a line has been laid down along the 
northern, eastern and south-eastern borders of the Brahma- 
putra valley. There was also formerly an Inner Line on 
the Lushai marches, but it has been allowed to fall into 
desuetude since our occupation of the Lushai hills. Planters 
are not allowed to acquire land beyond the Inner Line, 
either from Government or from any local chief or tribe. 

The Inner Line Regulation was the first law pro- Meaning 
mulgated in Assam under the authority conferred by the of term 
Statute 33 Vict., Chapter 3, which gives to the executive tion. 6 " 11 *" 
government of India a power of summary legislation for 
backward tracts. Such laws are called Regulations to dis- 
tinguish them from the Acts, or laws passed after discussion 
in the Legislative Council. 

The inconvenience of governing Assam as an appanage of Forma- 
the unwieldy province of Bengal had long been recognized. ^J chief 



332 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

Commis- It was remote and difficult of access, and few Lieutenant- 

sioner- Governors ever visited it. The local conditions were alto- 
snip of 

Assam, gether different from those which prevailed in Bengal, 
and were quite unknown to the officers responsible for the 
government of that province, who had not the time, even 
if they had the inclination, to make themselves acquainted 
with them. But the patronage was valuable, and proposals 
for its severance were always vigorously opposed until Sir 
George Campbell became the Lieutenant-Governor. That 
strenuous officer, though he took a greater personal interest in 
this out-of-the-way tract than any of his predecessors had 
done, speedily became convinced of the impossibility of 
carrying on the administration of Bengal on the system 
which then prevailed. He was strongly of opinion that the 
position of the Bengal Government should either be raised, by 
amalgamating the Board of Revenue with it, or lowered, 
by lopping off some of its more remote territories. The 
Government of India preferred the latter alternative, to 
which Sir George Campbell assented ; and, on the 6th February 
1874, the districts which now form the province of Assam, 
with the exception of Sylhet and of tracts subsequently 
acquired, were separated from the Government of Bengal and 
formed into a Chief Commissionership. On the 12th Sep- 
tember of the same year Sylhet was incorporated in the new 
province. 

Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Keatinge, V.C., C.S.I., was 
appointed the first Chief Commissioner. By Acts VIII 
and XII of 1874- the legal powers which were previously 
vested in the Lieutenant-Governor or the Board of Revenue, 
Bengal, were transferred to the Governor General in Council, 
who was at the same time authorized to delegate all or any of 
them to the Chief Commissioner. The powers so delegated, 
combined with those conferred by the General Clauses 
Act, which vests in the Chief Commissioner the powers 
of a Local Government in respect of Acts of the Imperial 
Council passed since the year 1874, practically placed the 
Chief Commissioner in the position of a Local Government in 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 333 

respect of all legislative enactments in force in the province.* 
By Resolutions of the Government of India dated the 12th 
May and 18th December 1874, the new Administration was 
provided with a separate staff of Deputy and Assistant 
Commissioners and other officers required to carry on the 
revenue and judicial business of the country. Since then 
the term Assam, which had originally been applied to the 
tract of country ruled by the Ahoms, and was subsequently 
used with reference to the area under the control of the Com- 
missioner of Assam, i.e., the six districts of the Brahmaputra 
valley, has been given a wider signification, and is now used 
as the designation of the whole territory which was included 
in the Chief Commissionership, including the Surma valley, 
the hill districts and Manipur. The officers who have filled 
the post of Chief Commissioner are noted below : — 

Col. K. H. Keatinge, V.C., C.S.I. . 1874 to 1878. 

Sir S. C. Bayley, K.C.S.I. • . 1878 to 1881. 

Sir C. A. Elliott, K.C.S.I. . . 1881 to 1885. 

Sir W. E. Ward, K.C.S.I. . . 1885 to 1887. Officiating. 

Sir D. Fitzpatriek, K.C.S.I. . . 1887 to 1889. 

Sir J. Westland, K.C.S.I. . . 1889. 

Mr. J. W. Quinton, C.S.I. . . 1889 to 1891. 

Sir W. E. Ward, K.C.S.I. . . 1891 to 1896. 

Sir H. J. S. Cotton, K.C.S.I. . . 1896 to 1902. 

Hon'ble Mr. J. B. Fuller, C.S.I., CLE. 1902. 

In addition to the above, there were several short officiat- 
ing appointments, viz., Sir William Ward in 1883, Brigadier- 
General Collett, C.B., in 1891, Sir Charles Lyall, K.C.S.I., in 
1894, Mr. Fuller in 1900 and Mr. C. W. Bolton, C.S.L, in 
1903. 

The earlier British administrators of Assam included Efficiency 

several men of great ability and energy : and the preliminary- of official 

r J staff in 

• The laws in force in Assam Statute 33 Vic, Cap. 3, as apply 1874 ' 

include such Statutes of the Im- proprio vigor e, or have been 

perial Parliament, old BeDgal Ee- declared in force under section 3 of 

gnlations of the Governor of Fort the Scheduled Districts Act, or have 

William, Aots of the Governor been extended to the province 

General in Council, Acts of the under section 5 of the said Act or 

Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal in under some power of extension 

Council and Eegulations under contained in the enactment itself 



/ 



334 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

arrangements which they made for the government of the 
country were excellent. But as time went by, and the people 
settled down contentedly under British rule, the administra- 
tion was allowed to run in a groove. The district officers, 
as we have seen, were in almost all cases military officers 
transferred from the local regiments to civil employ, and, 
so long as their orders were not openly flouted and the 
revenue was collected with fair punctuality, they left most 
things in the hands of their subordinates and troubled them- 
selves but little with the details of district work. 

Colonel Pollock, who went to Assam shortly before the 
formation of the Chief Commissionership, had a very poor 
opinion of the manner in which the province was governed 
at that time. According to him the Commissioner, constantly 
thwarted by the higher authorities, who resided nine hundred 
miles away and were quite ignorant of local conditions, " soon 
became disgusted, and contented himself with drawing his 
salary/* while " generally the officials in Assam knew very 
little of the country. The Commissioner confined himself 
to the river, went perhaps to Udalguri at the time of the fair, 
and visited Shillong, but knew nothing of the interior of 
the country. The Deputy Commissioners went year after 
year along certain routes, where -everything was prepared for 
them ; but even they knew nothing of the interior of the 
country/'* 

The free and easy methods of former times are well 
illustrated by McCosh's account of the jails. The prisoners 
were all put in irons, but there was very little discipline, and 
they were given an allowance of three pice a day, with 
which they purchased their own provisions from traders in 
the jail bazar. " Many of the prisoners/' he says, " lead 
rather a happy life and consider themselves as Company's ser- 
vants. They take as much pains to burnish their irons as 
they would a bracelet, and would not choose to escape though 
they had an opportunity." On more than one occasion 

* Sport in British But ma, Assam, etc., Vol. II, pages 61 and 78. 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 335 

undetected burglaries were traced to convicts in the jail, who 
were let out at night by the jailor, and shared with him their 
ill-gotten gains. 

The formation of the Chief Commissionership led to a Improve- 
marked improvement in the government of the province. JSJ^jL 
The Commission was strengthened by the addition of a under the 
number of trained civilians from Bengal, and the proceedings Chief . 
of the local officers were more closely and efficiently super- g i ners. 
vised. Every branch of the administration was overhauled, 
and many necessary reforms were introduced. Special enact- 
ments were drafted to provide for local needs, and the 
uncertain maze of incomplete and conflicting executive instruc- 
tions was replaced by clear and precise rules, framed under 
these enactments and deriving therefrom the force of law. 

One of the first improvements brought about under the Form- 
new regime was the introduction of the sub-divisional system ^if ? 
into the Sylhet district, which had previously been adminis- sub-divi- 
tered entirely from the head-quarters station. It was clearly 81ons - 
impossible, in this way, to deal adequately with the require- 
ments of a tract containing a population of two millions, and 
possessing a most difficult and complicated system of land 
tenures, and in which the communications were so bad that 
many parts were almost inaccessible at certain seasons of the 
year. To remedy this state of affairs, four outlying sub- 
divisions were formed, viz., Sunamganj, Habiganj, Maulvi 
Bazar and Karimganj, and a separate officer at head- quarters 
was told off to deal with the Jaintia parganas. It is now 
possible for the people in all parts of the district to obtain 
justice, pay in their land revenue, and transact other business 
with the officers of Government within a reasonable distance 
of their own homes, and for the officers to obtain an adequate 
knowledge of the local conditions prevailing in the areas 
which they have to administer. 

For some years the Chief Commissioner had no Commis- ^ e 
sioner to assist him, but the steady increase of work rendered Judge 
it more and more difficult for him to perform efficiently his Brahma- 
duties as head of the administration and, at the same time, to putra 



336 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

valley exercise direct control over the proceedings of the district 

Jud T* officers - Accordingly, in 1880, he was relieved of these duties 

and Com- in the districts of the Brahmaputra valley by the Judicial 

missioner. Commissioner or, as he was now called, the Judge, of those 

districts, who was invested with the powers exercised by a 

Commissioner of a Division in Bengal. 

A sepa- J n the course of time, the constant elaboration of the 

Judge is system of administration, coupled with the increase of work 

appointed, consequent on the growth of the tea gardens and of the 

immigrant population, made the two-fold duties of the 

Judge-Commissioner too heavy for one man to perform ; and 

in 1903 the appointment was split up and a separate officer 

was appointed as Judge. There being now a whole-time 

Judge, the Deputy Commissioners have been relieved of the 

special powers which they formerly exercised under sections 

30 and 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code. 

In the Surma valley there is a District and Sessions 
Judge of Sylhet, who is also Sessions Judge of Cachar; 
the functions of District Judge in the latter district are 
exercised by the Deputy Commissioner, who is also em- 
powered under sections 30 and 34 of the Code of Criminal 
Procedure. 
Forma- In the early days of British rule, the protection of the 

tion of f ron tier was wholly in the hands of the military authorities; 
police but, as greater precautions were taken to prevent raids, the 
battalions. ou tposts to be garrisoned became too numerous for the limited 
number of troops available, and some of them were entrusted 
to the district police. The latter force was divided into two 
parts, the one part being unarmed and performing duties of a 
purely civil nature, while the other was armed and was 
employed, partly in guarding jails and treasuries and in fur- 
nishing escorts, and partly in manning some of the frontier 
outposts. In 1879 there were four regiments in the province, 
who held fourteen outposts, and about 2,200 armed police, 
distributed over ten districts and entrusted with the defence 
of thirty-five outposts. It was proposed by the Chief Com- 
missioner, Sir Steuart Bayley, to raise the strength of 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 387 

the armed police to three thousand men and to entrust 
them with all frontier outpost duty, thereby relieving the 
military, whose strength he thought might then be some- 
what reduced. The outcome of this proposal, as revised by 
his successor, Sir Charles Elliott, after consultation with the 
Commander-in-Chief, was that the armed police were entirely 
separated from the civil. Instead of being scattered over ten 
districts, they were collected at four centres and formed into 
regular " Military Police" battalions, drilled and disciplined 
on the regimental system, and commanded by junior officers of 
the Indian Army. An additional battalion was formed after 
the annexation of the Lushai hills. There are now five of 
these corps with head-quarters at Dibrugarh, Silchar, Kohima, 
Tura, and Aijal. The total strength slightly exceeds three 
thousand. The men are mainly Gurkhas and Meches, and 
they are enlisted subject to the conditions of the Assam 
Military Police Regulation, 1890, which places them on a 
footing very similar to that of the native army. Their 
discipline is, as a rule, good ; and they have rendered excellent 
service, not only on outpost duty, but also in various expedi- 
tions against the hill tribes, for which, as they travel lighter, 
they have often been employed in preference to regular 
troops. 

The early revenue history of the districts of the Brahma- Revenue 
putra valley, excluding Goalpara, has already been briefly r> lst {" y 
described. In 1870 the assessment was raised to a uniform maputra 
rate of one rupee per higha for basti, ten annas for rupit, and va ^ e J- 
eight annas for faringati. Between the years 1883 and 1893 
a cadastral, or field to field, survey, on a scale of 16 inches to 
the mile, was made of the whole area, except tracts where 
cultivation was sparse, which were afterwards dealt with by 
non-professional agency. The assessment was then revised ; 
each class of land was divided into three sub-classes (with 
reference to the demand for it, its productiveness and the 
facilities for bringing the produce to market) and new rates 
were imposed, ranging from Rs. 1-6-0 to Rs. 1-2-0 per Ugha 
for lastij from one rupee to twelve annas for rupitj and from 

5 



3S8 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

twelve annas to nine annas for faring ati. The term of this 
settlement was originally fixed at ten years. It has not yet 
been revised in any district, but the re-settlement of Kamrup 
and Sibsagar is now approaching completion. 

It is a moot point whether the Bijni estate in Goalpara 
ever came under the decennial settlement which was after- 
wards made permanent, or whether the annual payment made 
by its owner is not rather of the nature of tribute ; but for all 
practical purposes the whole of the Goalpara district may be 
regarded as settled permanently, except the Eastern Duars, 
or the northern submontane tract taken from Bhutan after 
the war of 1864. Three of these Duars are the absolute 
property of Government ; the rates are lower, but in other 
respects they are managed in the same way as the districts of 
the Brahmaputra valley proper. The other two are settled 
with the proprietors of the Bijni and Sidli estates. 
Cachar. When Cachar was annexed, Government stepped into 

the position of the Raja as absolute owner of the soil. The 
old rates of assessment were continued till 1839, when a five 
years' settlement was made. During this period a professional 
survey was effected, and the next settlement was concluded 
on its basis for a period of fifteen years ; all cultivated land 
was assessed at a uniform rate of Rs. 3 per hal (nearly five 
acres) ; waste land paid no rent for five years and only half 
rates for the next five. In 1859 a twenty years' settle- 
ment was effected. Then followed one for fifteen years and 
in 1900 another for the same term. At this last settlement 
an attempt was made, not only to assign the villages to classes 
according to the estimated profits of cultivation, but also to 
recognize distinctions in the quality of land within the village. 
Rice lands were distributed into five classes, and other 
cultivated lands, except tea for which there is only one rate, 
into four. The big ha was introduced as the unit of area, and 
separate leases were issued to individual settlement -holders in 
lieu of the old co-parcenary tenures which had come down 
from the days of native rule. In those days bodies of men, 
often of different castes or even religions, combined to break 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 339 

up waste land, and were held jointly responsible for the whole 
revenue payable thereon. The average revenue per bigha in 
Cachar is now rather less than six annas. 

Sylhet, like the rest of the territory included in the pro- Sylhet. 
vince of Bengal in 1793, came under the permanent settlement, 
but it differed from all other districts, except Chittagong, in 
that the settlement was made after measurement, and was 
effected, not with the zamindars, but with the superior raiyats 
or middlemen. There are thus many more estates than else- 
where ; and considerable areas, which were then waste, were 
not included in any permanently settled estate. Most of these 
areas, or Ham (proclaimed) lands, have since been brought 
under cultivation, and have been surveyed and settled on 
various occasions. The current settlement dates from 1902, and 
has a term of twenty years. The area dealt with on this 
occasion, including Pertabgarh and certain small tenures of 
a similar status but different origin, was about 160,000 acres. 
This is exclusive of the Jaintia parganas which, though they 
form part of the Sylhet district, have a revenue history more 
nearly akin to that of Cachar. These parganas have been 
settled at different times for varying terms. At present they 
are under a fifteen years' settlement dating from 1898. 

In the hill districts, save in a few exceptional tracts, such Hilldis- 
as the plains mauzas of the Garo hills, there is no land tncfcs ' 
revenue settlement properly so called, and the assessment is on 
the houses, and not on the land. The usual rate of house-tax is 
two rupees, but it rises to three rupees in some tracts, while in 
the Lushai hills it is only one rupee per house. The hill tribes 
generally cultivate on the jhum system, i.e., they burn down 
part of the forest, the ashes of which make a valuable manure, 
and then dibble in various kinds of seeds all mixed together. 
After one or two years, cultivation becomes impossible on 
account of the choking weeds that spring up ; the villagers 
then move on to a new clearance, and the deserted fields remain 
unfit for cultivation until, after the lapse of some years, fresh 
forest growth has killed out the weeds. Each village thus 
needs a far larger area for its crops than is under cultivation 



840 IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

in any particular year, and serious disputes have been known 
to occur regarding land that to all appearances is a neglected 
and useless jungle. Very similar conditions exist in some o£ 
the more remote tracts of the plains districts, such as the North 
Cachar sub-division and the Mikir hills tract in Nowgong. 
The Land Up to the year 1886, Sylhet proper was under the opera- 
Eevenue ** on °^ ^ e old Bengal Regulations and the other 
Regula- enactments relating to land and revenue which were in force 
tion. * n .{.j^ province. In the Jaintia parganas and Cachar, and 

also, though to a less extent, in Goalpara, the general tenour 
of these enactments was followed, but they were not treated 
as actually in force. In the Brahmaputra valley, excluding 
Goalpara, the settlement rules of the Board of Revenue had 
been replaced by local rules ; in other respects the spirit 
of the Bengal regulations was followed, but only so far as 
the officers concerned considered them to be suitable to 
local conditions. The state of doubt and uncertainty arising 
from this state of affairs was removed by the enactment, 
in 1886, of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, which 
has been brought into force in all the plains districts of the 
Province and contains all the necessary provisions of the 
revenue law of Bengal, which it repeals so far as Assam is con- 
cerned. It has not yet been generally introduced into the hill 
districts, where the requirements of the primitive inhabitants 
are amply provided for by a few simple executive instructions. 
Steady When Mill visited Assam in 1853, carts and carriages 

ment°in" were un ^nown, and the roads were few and bad. The two 
communi great trunk roads, which now run east and west aloug both 
cations. Dan ]j S f the Brahmaputra, had not at that time been com- 
menced, and there were practically no roads at all in Sylhet 
and Cachar. In recent times great progress has been made. 
A regular Public Works Department was established in the 
year 1868 ; and in 1880 Local Boards were created for the 
management of affairs of local interest, and were placed 
in charge of all roads of purely local importance. To 
provide the funds for their requirements they were given 
half the proceeds of a local rate of one-sixteenth the annual 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 34l 

value of all landed property, the levy of which was autho- 
rized by Regulation III of 1879, together with a grant from 
provincial revenues and the receipts from pounds and ferries. 
At the present time there are in the Province 3,970 miles of 
road fit for vehicular traffic, of which 2,385 miles are under 
the Local Boards and the rest are in the direct charge of the 
Public Works Department. There are also 3,353 miles of 
bridle-paths. 

In 1847 a steamer service on the Brahmaputra river was Steamers, 
established by Government, but the boats ran only at 
uncertain intervals and they did not proceed beyond Gauhati. 
Amongst the documents appended to Mill's Report is a 
petition by the Assam Company in which it is prayed that a 
regular service be established, running monthly as far as 
Gauhati and, in alternate months, the whole way to Dibru- 
garh. Two private companies were afterwards formed for the 
purpose of navigating the Brahmaputra and, at a later date, 
the Surma river, but their steamers ran very irregularly, and 
were hampered in their movements by the large flats for goods 
which they towed, the loading and unloading of which often 
occasioned great delay at the different stations on the route. 
In 1883, aided by a government subsidy, the two companies 
established a service of daily mail steamers on the Brahma- 
putra river. This service has gradually been improved until, 
at the present time, the fleet consists of large, powerful and 
well- equipped boats, which perform the upward journey from 
Goalundo to Dibrugarh in less than a week, compared with 
the three weeks, or even longer, required by the old cargo 
steamers. In addition to a large number of passengers, these 
boats now carry a great deal of tea and other goods which it 
is desired to transport quickly. A similar service was estab- 
lished on the Surma river in 1887. 

About 1885 two small State railways were constructed, one Kailways. 
in the Jorhat sub-division and the other between Theriaghat 
and Company ganj,* but their aggregate length was only 

• The Theriaghat line was closed which rendered it practically use- 
soon after the earthquake of 1897, less. 



342 IMPORTANT EVENTS Ol? RECENT TIMES* 

35 miles. A more important undertaking of the same 
period was the Dibra-Sadiya railway which brings a 
great part of the Lakhimpur district into direct communica- 
tion with the Brahmaputra. It is a private line, 78 miles 
long, and gives a good return to the share- holders. This was 
followed in 1895 by a small private railway from Tezpur to 
Balipara, a distance of 20 miles. But all these lines taken 
together shrink into insignificance when compared with the 
Assam-Bengal State railway, the last portion of which has 
recently been opened for traffic. This line runs from the 
port of Chittagong, through Tippera, Sylhet and Cachar, 
thence across the North Cachar hills to Lumding, and 
thence up the south bank of the Brahmaputra to a point 
on the Dibru-Sadiya railway. The latter section is con- 
nected with Gauhati by a branch which takes off at Lumding. 
The Eastern Bengal State railway has already been carried as 
far as Dhubri, and an extension is now being constructed 
between that place and Gauhati. When this has been com- 
pleted, there will be through railway communication from 
Upper Assam to Chittagong on the one side and to Calcutta 
on the other. The total length of the Assam-Bengal railway 
in Assam is 567 miles, and that of the line between 
Gauhati and Dhubri about 152 miles. It . still remains to 
encourage the construction by private enterprise of a net- 
work of small feeder lines connecting the main railway with 
the principal tea and commercial centres situated within a 
reasonable distance of it. Several projects of this nature 
have received the approval of the local administration, though 
it has not yet been found possible to settle all the questions 
on which their promotion depends. 
Manipnr When Manipur was restored to Gambhir Singh, his levy 

affairs. wag pi ace( j un der two British officers, and was paid and 
supplied with ammunition by the British Government. In 
1834 Gambhir Singh died, and the Kubo valley was restored 
to Burma, the Eaja of Manipur receiving as compensation an 
allowance of five hundred rupees a year. In 1835 the assist- 
ance given to the levy was withdrawn and a Political Agent 



IMPORTANT EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 343 

was appointed to reside at Manipur. In 1844 the Queen 
Dowager attempted to poison the Regent, but failed, and the 
latter then usurped the throne and held it till his death in 
1850. His brother succeeded him, but three months later he 
was ejected by the prince who had been dispossessed. After 
a period of disorder, the British Government determined to 
recognize and support the latter. During the next seventeen 
years there were no less than eight risings, some of which 
were repressed by the Raja himself, while others were put 
down with the aid of British troops and police. 

It has already been mentioned that in the Naga war of 
1879 the relief of Kohima was effected by the Maharaja's 
troops. In return for this service he was created a K. C.S.I. 
On his death, in 1886, he was succeeded by his son Sura 
Chandra. A rival claimant tried to seize the throne, but he 
was defeated by some military police from Cachar and 
deported to Hazaribagh. 

In 1890 Sura Chandra was driven from the palace by The rising 
the Jubraj and took refuge with the Political Agent. Contrary °* 189 ^- 
to the Agent's advice, he declared his intention of abdicating, 
and left Manipur for Brindaban. On reaching British 
territory, however, he repudiated his abdication and claimed 
the aid of the Government of India. It was decided to 
confirm the Jubraj as Raja, but the Chief Commissioner was 
instructed to remove from Manipur the Senapati, or Com- 
mander-in-Chief, who had instigated the revolution. 

In March 1891 Mr. Quinton, the Chief Commissioner, 
proceeded with an escort to Manipur and ordered the 
Senapati to appear before him. He refused to do so ; and, when 
troops were sent into the palace enclosure to effect his arrest, 
they were fiercely attacked by the Manipuris. The engage- 
ment continued till the evening. An armistice was then 
agreed to, and the Chief Commissioner and four other officers 
were induced, under a promise of safe conduct, to go un- 
armed to a durbar in the palace. No agreement being found 
possible, they started to return, but the crowd closed in, 
and one of them was fatally wounded by a spear-thrust. 



344 IAiPORf ANt EVENTS OF RECENT TIMES. 

The Chief Commissioner and his companions were then kept 
prisoners for two hours, after which they were beheaded 
by the public executioner in front of two stone dragons. 
The attack on the Residency was resumed, and the defenders, 
thinking it untenable, retreated to Cachar. A month later, 
Manipur was occupied by British troops and the persons 
implicated in the outrage were arrested. The Senapati and 
some others were executed, and the new Raja and his brothers 
were transported for life. 
Subse- The State had become forfeit, but, after full consideration, 

quent ft wag decided to regrant it ; and Chura Chandra, a youthful 
ments. scion of a collateral line, was placed upon the throne. During 
his minority, a considerable part of which he has spent in the 
Chief s' College at Ajmer, the administration of the State has 
been conducted by the Political Agent, who is now also 
Superintendent, and numerous reforms have been effected. 
Better judicial tribunals have been introduced, the land 
revenue administration has been carefully revised, and the old 
system of forced labour has been abolished. The boundaries 
of the State have been defined ; steps have been taken to 
disarm the hill tribes, and a cart road has been opened from 
Imphal, the capital, to Kohima. 
The Assam is well known to be subject to earthquakes, and 

ouake some specially severe ones have already been mentioned, such 
of 1897. as that of 1663, which took place during Mir Jumlah's retreat 
from Garhgaon and is said to have lasted for half an hour. 
Another, in Rudra Singh's reign, did serious damage to a 
number of temples. In modern times the Cachar earthquake 
of 1869, which did great local mischief, and the one of 
1875, which caused some damage to houses in Shillong and 
Gauhati, deserve mention. But all recent seismic disturbances 
were completely thrown into the shade by that of June 12th, 
1897. The focus of this earthquake was not far removed from 
Shillong, and, in that neighbourhood, the movements of the 
earth attained a magnitude and violence of which those who 
did not personally experience them can form no conception : 
to stand was impossible ; the surface of the ground moved in 



IMPORTANT lEV^NTS OF RECENT TIMES. 345 

waves like those of the sea ; large trees were swayed 
backwards and forwards, bending almost to the ground ; and 
huge blocks of stone were tossed up and down like peas on a 
drum. In the course of a few minutes or, it may be, 
seconds, all masonry buildings were overthrown. The 
destruction was almost as complete in Gauhati and Sylhet. 
Large rents were made in the alluvial soil ; sand and water 
were belched forth, and the beds of the rivers were silted 
up ; great alterations were made in the level of the country ; 
extensive tracts of land subsided and became uncultivable ; 
and in many places roads and railway embankments were 
utterly destroyed. More than fifteen hundred persons lost 
their lives, chiefly owing to landslips in the hills and the 
falliig in of river banks in Sylhet. Had the catastrophe occur- 
red at night instead of in the afternoon, the loss of life must 
necessarily have been far greater. Since this earthquake the 
town of Barpeta has become almost uninhabitable in the rainy 
season and the sub-divisional head-quarters have been trans- 
ferred to Barnagar on the Monas river. 

As these pages are passing through the press a Proclama- Amalga- 
tion has been issued by the Government of India announcing f Assam 
the separation from Bengal and amalgamation with Assam w * th 
of the tracts commonly known as North and East Bengal a ndEast 
comprising the districts of the Dacca, Chittagong and Kaj- Bengal 
shahi Commissionerships, with the exception of Darjeelino* 
and the addition of Malda. The whole of this area will 
form a new Province to be known as East Bengal and 
Assam, and will be administered by a Lieutenant-Governor. 
It will have a Board of Revenue and a Legislative Council, 
but the supreme civil and criminal jurisdiction will still be 
exercised by the High Court of Calcutta. 



346 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 
Discovery During the three quarters of a century for which Assam 
tea plant, has been under British rule and enjoyed the blessings of 
a settled Government, its material prosperity has increased 
rapidly. Its trade has grown, and its exports of mustard 
seed, potatoes (introduced in the Khasi hills by David 
Scott), silk, rubber and other local produce have increased 
greatly, both in quantity and value. A large part of the 
lime used in Bengal is supplied from the quarries on the 
southern face of the Khasi hills. Coal has been discovered 
and worked in various parts, especially in the neighbourhood 
of Makum in the Lakhimpur district ; and mineral oil has 
been found at Digboi in the same district, where wells have 
been sunk for its extraction. But by far the most important 
factor in the growing prosperity and commercial importance 
of the province has been the remarkable expansion of the 
tea industry. The discovery that the tea plant grows wild 
in the upper part of the Brahmaputra valley was made 
by Mr. Robert Bruce, who has already been mentioned 
as an agent, first of Purandar Singh, and afterwards of 
his rival Chandrakant. He visited Garhgaon for trading 
purposes in 1823 and there learnt of its existence from a 
Singpho chief, who promised to obtain some specimens for 
him. In the following year, these were made over to his 
brother, Mr. C. A. Bruce, who had left England in 1809 
as a midshipman on a ship belonging to the East India 
Company, and who, on the outbreak of the Burmese war, 
volunteered for service and was sent up to Sadiya in command 
of a division of gun boats. Some of the plants thus obtained 
were submitted to David Scott, by whom they were forwarded 
to the Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, 
for examination. They were pronounced to be of the same 



GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 347 

family, but not the same species, as the plant from which the 
Chinese manufacture their tea. 

Nothing further seems to have happened until 1832. 
In that year Captain Jenkins was deputed to report on 
the resources of Assam, and the existence of the tea plant 
was pressed upon his notice by Mr. C. A. Bruce. Its identity 
with the tea of commerce was still doubted by the Calcutta 
botanists, but its existence was believed to prove that the 
latter would thrive in India, and Government began to bestir 
itself to introduce it. A Tea Committee consisting of seven 
civilians, three Calcutta merchants, two native gentlemen, 
and Dr. Wallich of the Botanical Gardens, was appointed to 
further this object, and its Secretary, a Mr. Gordon, was 
sent to China to procure plants, seeds and persons skilled in 
tea manufacture. Meanwhile fresh enquiries were instituted 
in Assam under the auspices of Captain Jenkins, and the 
reports submitted by him and Lieutenant Charlton at last 
convinced the botanists, the Tea Committee and the Gov- 
ernment of the identity of the Assam plant with that of 
China. 

It has sometimes been said that Lieutenant Charlton, Rival 
and not Mr. Bruce, is entitled to the honour of the discovery claimants 
of tea in Assam, while in his Memorandum on Tea Cultivation f 
written in 1873, the late Sir John Edgar referred to their discovery. 
rival claims as an open question. Lieutenant Charlton, 
however, did not go to Assam until after the first specimens 
of the indigenous plant had been sent to Calcutta. The 
most that he can lay claim to is the final proof that the 
plant found in Assam is identical with that cultivated in 
China, but this also is doubtful. Next to Mr. C. A. Bruce, 
Captain Jenkins seems to have the strongest claim, and 
he was presented with a gold medal in recognition of his 
services in this matter by the Agricultural Society of 
Calcutta. 

The brothers Bruce are given the credit for the discovery 
of tea in Robinson's Descriptive Account of Mam, which 
was published in 1841 ; and, in a report submitted in 1835 



348 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 

by Dr. Wallich of the Tea Committee,* who was sent 
to Assam to investigate the question of tea cultivation, it is 
stated that "it was Mr. Bruce and his late brother Major 
Robert Bruce at Jorhat who originally brought the Assam 
tea to public notice many years ago when no one had the 
slightest idea of its existence/' Lastly, there is the following 
note on the margin of a copy in the India Office Library of 
Mr. Cosh's Tocography of Asam, published in 1837, which, 
I am informed, is in the handwriting of Captain Jenkins 
himself : — 

" The Tea Committee of Calcutta only became convinced about the 
end of 1835 that the tea of Assam was the true tea of commerce ; 
previous to that date the specimens alluded to in the text were referred 
to CameUa by the botanists of Calcutta. The merit of the discovery 
rests solely with Mr. Bruce, who in 1836 manufactured some specimens 
which were sent home, but were unfit for use. The samples of 1837 were 
prepared by the Chinese manufacturers brought from China by Mr. 
Gordon. The samples of 1838, lately received, are also by the Chinese 
and by natives instructed by them. 

First As a consequence of the discovery, Mr. C. A. Bruce was 

at^nu- a PP omted " Superintendent of the Government Tea Forests/' 
facture. and he at once set himself to discover all the tracts in Lakhim- 
pur where the tea plants were at all plentiful, and to arrange 
for the purchase of the leaf. This was plucked by the 
Singphos and other villagers, and brought at irregular 
intervals to the factory. 

But although it was now admitted that the Assam plant 
was undoubtedly a variety of the true tea plant of China, it 
was still thought that it had degenerated by neglect of culti- 
vation, and that the proper course would be to introduce the 
cultivated plant from that country. Mr. Bruce was therefore 
supplied, not only with some skilled Chinese tea manufacturers, 
but also with a few of the plants brought to India by Mr. 
Gordon, and from this time forward there was a constant 
importation of Chinese tea seed. It was not till years later, 

* This report is quoted in Soil and Productions. London : 
an anonymous pamphlet entitled Smith, Elder & Co., 1839. 
Assam: Sketch of its History, 



GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 349 

when large tracts had been given up to the cultivation o£ 
China tea, that the Assam planters became convinced of the 
great local superiority of the indigenous variety, in respect both 
of quality and outturn, and found that for most soils the best 
plant of all is a hybrid in which the indigenous element largely 
preponderates. In 1837, Mr. Bruce packed forty-six boxes 
of tea, but, owing to defective packing, much of it had been 
damaged by damp before it reached Calcutta, and only a 
small portion was sent on to England. The report on this, 
however, was hopeful, and it was declared that Assam tea 
would be quite capable of competing with the Chinese product 
"when more care shall be taken in the selection of leaves from 
plants better pruned, and when greater experience shall 
have perfected the mode of preparation." 

The first Government tea plantation was located on a History 
sandbank near the confluence of the Brahmaputra and the i ndus t ry e # a 
Kundil rivers. The poor and porous soil was quite unsuitable 
for the purpose, and the experiment proved a failure. The 
plants were therefore removed to Jaipur, where a new garden 
was opened. This was sold in 1840 to the Assam Company, 
which had been formed in the previous year with a capital 
of half a million sterling, and which established factories at 
Dibrugarh and at the junction of the Buri Dihing and Tingri 
rivers. Plantations were made from China seed ; but for 
some time the leaf brought in from the bushes growing wild 
in the forests continued to be the chief source of supply. In 
its earlier years the Company was far from prosperous, but 
about 1852 its prospects began to improve, and in 1859 it had 
4,000 acres under cultivation and an outturn of over 760,000 
pounds of tea. Its local expenditure exceeded a lakh of rupees 
a year in 1853, by which time nine other gardens had been 
started — all in Upper Assam. The existence of indigenous tea 
in Cachar and Sylhet was soon afterwards ascertained, and in 
1855 the pioneer garden in the former district was opened. 

During the next few years the new industry made rapid Tempo- 
strides. The conspicuous success of the Assam and Jorhat collapse 
companies, the latter of which was formed in 1858 from the 



£50 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 

of the estates of the Messrs. Williamson, led to the most extravagant 
industry, ideas regarding the prospects of the industry. Fresh gardens 
were opened in all directions ; and a period of wild excitement 
and speculation supervened. The mania extended even to 
Government officers ; and three Deputy Commissioners, four 
Assistant Commissioners and several police officers threw up 
their appointments to engage in tea-planting. Clearances were 
made wholesale, often with the sole object of selling them to 
companies at a large profit ; land was taken up irrespective of 
its suitability for the object in view, or of the supply of labour 
available, and was planted out with a wholly insufficient num- 
ber of tea bushes. The result was a general collapse ; many 
of the new companies, unable to meet their liabilities, were 
wound up, and those which were still carried on suffered 
a serious depreciation of their shares, through the ignorance 
of the shareholders who, as remarked by Sir John Edgar in a 
paper written at the time, " showed as much folly in their 
hurry to get out of tea as they had a few years before in 
their eagerness to undertake the speculation." 
Recovery The depression continued until 1869, when it was found 
progress? ^at well-managed gardens were yielding a good profit, and 
that even those which had belonged to the defunct companies 
were, in many cases, turning out well under careful manage- 
ment. This gave a fresh impetus to the industry, and during 
the next thirty years there was a steady increase in the 
number of tea gardens, in the area under cultivation, and in 
the output of tea. In 1872 about 27,000 acres were 
actually planted with tea in the Brahmaputra valley, 23,000 
in Cachar, and 1,000 in Sylhet ; the outturn in these three tracts 
was respectively six million, five million, and a third of a million 
pounds. In 1878 the total production of tea was 28 £ million 
pounds ) in 1885 it was 534 million, and in 1901 it was 
close on 134 million pounds, viz., 72 million pounds in the 
Brahmaputra, and 62 million pounds in the Surma, Valley. 
The area under cultivation in the year last mentioned was 
338,186 acres, or about one-third of the total quantity of land 
taken up by the tea planters. The capital invested in Assam, 



GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 351 

tea gardens in 1903 may be estimated roughly at more than 
fourteen million pounds sterling.* 

In 1866 no less than 96 per cent, of the tea imported 
into the United Kingdom came from China and only 4 per 
cent, from India, but in 1886 only 59 per cent, came from 
China, while India supplied 38 per cent., and a new rival, 
Ceylon, contributed 3 per cent. In 1903 the imports of 
China tea had fallen to 10 per cent., compared with 59 per 
cent, of Indian and 31 per cent, of Ceylon tea. 

When the cultivation of tea was first commenced in Assam, Improve- 
nothing was known of the habits of the tea bush, and it was ^nufao- 
only after many years of study and experimenting that the ture, eto. 
planters learnt what was the most suitable soil and climate, 
and what was the best way of planting out and spacing the 
bushes, of cultivating, pruning and plucking them, and of 
withering, rolling and firing the leaf. The procedure in 
these matters, moreover, is necessarily far from uniform ; 
it varies with the kind of plant grown, and with the local 
peculiarities of soil and rainfall. It would be tedious to 
descend to details, but it may be mentioned that one of the 
greatest improvements has been the introduction of machinery 
whereby the handling of the tea is reduced to a minimum. 
Formerly the freshly picked leaves were rolled by hand into 
lumps, each about the size of a loaf, and were then left 
to ferment, after which they were roasted on sieves over 
small charcoal fires. The leaf is now rolled, fired and sifted 
entirely by machinery, and is practically not handled at all. 
There are two main varieties of tea, black and green, the latter 
being produced in comparatively small quantities, chiefly 
for the American market. 

A recent writerf has described the modern system of Modem 

manufacturing black tea as follows :— " As soon as the leaf is metho ^ °f 

manuiac* 
plucked, it is laid out thinly on trays or sheets iu order that ture. 

* The share list of 68 leading f Mr. Stanton, in a lecture deli- 
Indian tea companies shows that vered in 1904 before the Society of 
they have a capital of £9,654,732 Arts, 
and 231,547 acres under tea. 



352 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 

it may wither in which process the rigidity of the leaf cells 
disappears and the leaf becomes soft and easily rolled. When 
this withering process is accomplished, which depends a good 
deal on the state of the weather, the leaf is taken into the 
factory and rolled by machinery, tbe object of this being to 
break np the already softened leaf cells, so that the sap then 
escapes and exudes. When these cells are broken up, the leaf 
is taken out of the roller and allowed to stand until fermenta- 
tion, or rather oxidization sets in ; during this process the leaf 
changes colourj and when it assumes a bright coppery tint, 
fermentation is stopped by placing the leaf in the drier, and 
firing it at a fairly high temperature ; this fixes the fermenta- 
tion and in the process the colour of the leaf has changed to 
nearly black. The tea is then sorted through different sized 
sieves in order to make it suitable for the requirements of 
different markets. It is then packed into chests and sent 
to the market where it is to be sold." 

Green tea is not withered, but is steamed, and then 
rolled and fired, without being allowed to ferment. 
Diminu- In the early days of the industry the prices obtained 

cost of for Assam tea were extraordinarily high. The crop of 1839 
produo- yielded eight shillings a pound; and when the price fell 
below two shillings it was said that tea could no longer 
pay. But the price has continued to fall steadily ; it was 
Is. 5d. in 1878, Is. in 1882 and 9£<Z. in 1886, while in 1903 
it was only 8%d. for tea produced in the Brahmaputra valley 
and 6%d. for that from the Surma valley, and yet, on the 
whole, there has generally been a fair margin of profit. 
Between 1893 and 1898, however, the extension of cultivation 
was so rapid that the supply of tea quite outstripped the 
demand, while the cost of placing it on the market was 
enhanced by the closing of the mints and by the artificial 
value given to the rupee, in which the coolies' wages were 
paid. These adverse conditions caused the prices obtained for 
the tea to fall below the cost of production, and, for a time, 
the industry entered once more on a period of depression. 
Every effort has since been made to reduce expenditure and 



GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 353 

to open new markets; and this, coupled with the practical 
stoppage of new extensions, is now gradually restoring the 
equilibrium. 

Owing largely to the continuous fall in price, the consump- 
tion of tea in Great Britain and Ireland has risen from barely 
one million pounds, or three and-a-half pounds per head of 
the population in 1866, to two and-a-half million pounds, or six 
pounds per head, in 1903. The attempts made by the Indian 
and Ceylon planters to capture new markets have raised their 
sales of tea outside the United Kingdom from thirty-seven 
million pounds in 1895 to one hundred and nineteen million 
in 1903. 

A variety of causes have contributed to the steady Causes of 
reduction in the cost of placing tea upon the market. By ed cost £ 
improved cultivation the average yield per acre has been nroduc- 
increased from two to four hundredweight ; the introduction 10n ' 
of machinery has cheapened the process of manufacture ; the 
amalgamation of small gardens and the reduction of the 
European staff have brought down the charges for supervision, 
both locally and in the offices of the Calcutta agents ; and 
there has been a great diminution in the outlay on machinery, 
stores, tea-boxes and freight, both local and ocean, all of 
which cost far less now than they did formerly. Apart from 
this, the planter's budget is now scrutinized with the utmost 
care, and there is far less wasteful or unremunerative 
expenditure than there was in the halcyon days of high profits 
and indifferent supervision from head-quarters. Some indeed 
are of opinion that, in certain cases at least, the controlling 
authorities have gone too far in this direction and have insisted 
on economies that are not likely to prove beneficial in the long 
run. 

In order to encourage the taking up of land for tea culti- Rules 
vation, very favourable terms have at different times been sane- ^]™j f 
tioned by Government. The first rules were issued in 1838, lands for 
when it was laid down that any tract of waste land, from 100 ^-^ 
to 10,000 acres, might be taken up on a forty-five years' lease, 
with a rent-free period of from five to twenty years, according 

Y 



354 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 

as the land was open, or under reeds or forest, and, after 
that, a progressive assessment on three-quarters of the area, 
rising to Its. 1-2 an acre. On the expiry of the lease, one- 
fourth of the area was to remain free from assessment in per- 
petuity and the rest was to be assessed, at the option of the 
grantee, at one-fourth the gross profits, or at the rate paid 
for rice lands in the neighbourhood. There was a clause pro- 
viding that a quarter of the area must be cleared within five 
years, failing which the land was liable to resumption. In 1854 
these rules were revised ; the term of the lease was extended 
to 99 years, and the progressive assessments were greatly 
reduced, so that, during the last 74 years, the rent was fixed 
at only As. 6 per acre. In 1861 the system of fee simple 
grants was introduced, under which land was sold at rates 
ranging from Rs. 2-8 to Rs. 5 per acre. Leases under the 
previous rules were commutable to fee simple at twenty years' 
purchase of the rent payable at the time of commutation. A 
year later the grants were made auctionable, with an upset 
price of Rs. 2-8-0 per acre, which in 1874 was raised to Rs. 8. 
Lastly, in 1876, the sale of land outright was put a stop to, 
and a system of thirty years' leases was introduced ; under this 
system the lease is sold at an upset price of Re. 1 per acre, and 
the area covered by it is liable, after a revenue-free term, to 
assessment at progressive rates, rising in the last period of the 
lease to Re. 1 per acre. The thirty-year lease rules are still 
in force, but land is no longer granted under them in tracts 
where the area still available for settlement is small ; in such 
tracts planters are now required to take up land under the 
same rules as ordinary cultivators. In 1902 the land held by 
planters amounted to nearly a quarter of the total settled 
area; it included 920,558 acres held under special rules and 
237,699 acres under the ordinary district tenures. 
The There are very few landless labourers in Assam, and 

labour people who have land naturally prefer the independence and 
ease of their position as cultivators to the discipline and 
regular labour of the tea gardens. It was thus found 
necessary, at a very early stage, to seek for tea garden coolies 



GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 355 

elsewhere, and in 1853 the Assam Company had already 
begun to import labourers from Bengal. This involved legis- 
lation, and from 1863 onwards a series of enactments have 
been passed, with the two-fold object of ensuring to the em- 
ployer the services of the labourers imported by him for a 
period sufficiently long to enable him to recoup the cost of 
recruiting and bringing them to the garden, on the one 
hand, and, on the other, of protecting the labourers against 
fraudulent recruitment, of providing a proper and sanitary 
system of transport, and of securing their good treatment 
and adequate remuneration during the term of their labour 
contracts. The labour law at present in force is Act VI 
of 1901. The most suitable coolies are the aboriginal tribes 
of Chota Nagpur and the neighbourhood; but the supply 
of these is insufficient, and is eked out by plains people from 
the United Provinces and elsewhere, who require a long period 
of acclimatization, and, even then, are seldom quite satis- 
factory. 

The benefits which the tea industry has conferred on The in- 
the Province have been many and great. The land most t ^ e tea in . 
suitable for tea is not adapted to the cultivation of rice, dustry on 
and the greater part of it would still be hidden in dense ^i^ *' 
jungle if it had not been cleared by the tea planters, who of Assam. 
in 1901 paid a land revenue of £41,000 in addition to 
£5,000 paid as local rates. The gardens gave employment 
in the same year to more than 600,000 labourers. The 
majority of these labourers have been imported from other 
parts of India, but this is merely because the local supply of 
labour is so small. The gardens provide an unfailing source 
of employment for local cultivators who, for any reason, may 
wish to work for hire. The literate classes have obtained 
numerous clerical and medical appointments on the gardens ; 
and the demand for rice to feed the coolies has consider- 
ably augmented its price in Assam, and so enabled the 
cultivators to dispose of their produce at a greater profit 
than would have been possible had they been obliged to 
export it to Bengal. A great impetus has also been given 

?2 



356 GROWTH OF THE TEA INDUSTRY. 

to trade, and new markets have been opened in all parts of 
the country. Many of the persons who go to Assam to work 
on the tea gardens afterwards settle down there as cultivators, 
and so help to bring under the plough its vast areas of fertile 
waste land. In 1901 such persons held 82,000 acres of 
land direct from Government, in addition to large areas 
which they occupied as tenants of private land-holders. At 
the last Census three-quarters of a million persons, or an 
eighth of the total population of Assam, were foreign -born, 
and of these the great majority were originally coolies 
brought up by the tea planters. The planters, again, are 
greatly interested in the improvement of communications, 
and have been instrumental in the construction of num- 
erous roads and several small lines of railway. It is very 
doubtful if the daily steamer services on the Brahmaputra 
and Surma rivers would ever have been introduced but for 
the trade fostered by the tea industry. 



DATES OF SOME ASSAM DYNASTIES. 



357 



APPENDIX A. 

DATES OF SOME ASSAM DYNASTIES. 

(*) Rough Chronology of Kings of Kamarupa between the seventh 
and the twelfth centuries. 



Name op King. 



Bhaskar Varman 



Sala Stambha 
Vigraha Stambha 
Palaka Stambha 
Vijaya Stambha 



Sri Harish 



Pralambha . 
Harjjara 
Vana Mala . 
Jay Mala 
Vira Bahu , 
Bala Varman 



Tyag Singh . 
Brahma Pal . 
Katna Pal . 
[Purandar Pal] 
Indra Pal 



Tishya Deb 
Vaidya Deb 



Capital. 



Haruppesvar . 
Ditto 


800 
818 


Ditto 


836 


Ditto 


850 


Ditto 


866 


Ditto 


882 




990 


Sri Durjaya . 


1000 


Ditto 


1016 



Ditto 

Ditto 
Hamsakonchi 



Supposed 

approximate 

date of 

accession. 



A.D. 

630 

664 
680 
696 
712 

740 [P 780] 



1048 

1120 
115a 



358 DATES OF S0M6 ASSAM DYNASTIES, 

(it) Chronology of Akom Kings. 











Reign. 




Com- 
menced. 


Ended. 


Sukapha ....... 


1228 


1268 


Suteupha . • 


• . . 






1268 


1281 


Subinpha . • . 


... 






1281 


1293 


Sukhangpha • 


> . • » 






1293 


1332 


Sukhrangpha • 


► • . • 






1332 


1364 


Sutupha . . « 


... 






1364 


1376 


interregnum 


> • . . 






1376 


1380 


Tyaokhamti 


• • . . 






1380 


1389 


interregnum 


• • • . 






1389 


1397 


Sudangpha 


» . • . 






1397 


1407 


Sujangpha 


» • . . 






1407 


1422 


Suph&kpha 


* . • • 






1422 


1439 


Susenpha 


p • • • 






1439 


1488 


Suhenpha 


• • . • 






1488 


1493 


Supimpha 


. . • 






1493 


1497 


Suhungmung or the Dihingia Raja 






1497 


1539 


Suklenmung or Garhgaya Raja 






1539 


1552 


Sukhampha or Khora Raja . 






1552 


1603 


Susengpha or Burha Raja or Pratap Sinj 


* • 




1603 


1641 


Surampha or Bhaga Raja • 






1641 


1644 


Sutyinpha or Nariya Raja 






1644 


1648 


Sutamla or Jayadhvaj Singh 






1648 


1663 


Supungmung or Chakradhvaj Singh 






1663 


1670 


Sunyatpha or Udayaditya Singh . 






1670 


1673 


Suklampha or Ramdhvaj . . 






1673 


1675 


Suhung • . • . 






1675 


... 


Gobar ..... 






1675 


... 


Sujinpha ..... 






1675 


1677 


SudaiphS ..... 






1677 


1679 


Sulikpha or Lara Raja 






1679 


1681 


Supatpha or Gadadhar Singh 






1681 


1696 


Sukhrangpha or Rudra Singh 






1696 


1714 


Sutanpha, or Sib Singh 






1714 


1744 


Sunenpha or Pramata Singh 






1744 


1751 


Surampha or Rajesvar Singh 






1751 


1769 


Sunyeopha or Lakshmi Singh 






1769 


1780 


Suhitpangpha or Gaurinath Singh 






1780 


1795 


Suklingpha or Kamalesvar Singh . 






1795 


1810 


Sudinpha or Chandrakant Singh 






1810 


1818 


Purandar Singh • 






1818 


1819 


Jogesvar Singh .... 






1819 


... 


Burmese Hule .... 






1819 


1824 


Beitish Conquest . 






1824 


... 


Purandar Singh rules in Upper Assam • 


. 1832 


1838 



DATES OF SOME ASSAM DYNASTIES. 359 

(Hi) Approximate dates of the Koch Kings. 





Date op 










Tears in which 

known to he 

reigning. 




Acces- 
sion. 


Death. 


In whole Kingdom. 








Bisva Singh .... 


1515 


1540 


1537 


Nar Nar&yan .... 


1540 


[1581] 


1546, 1578 


In Western Kingdom, or Koch 
Bihar. 








Nar Narayan • • • . 


[1581] 


1584 


... 


Lakshmi Narayan . . 


1584 


1622 


1585, 1618 


Bir Narayan 


1622 


1627 


... 


Pran Narayan 


1627 


1666 


1662 



[The dates of the subsequent Rajas of Koch Bihar will be found in Hunter's 
Statistical Account of that State. They have no hearing on the history 
of Assam.] 



In Eastern Kingdom, or Koch 
Hajo. 








Eaghu Deb .... 


1581 


1593 


1583, 1588 


Parikshit .... 


1593 


1613 


1605, 1613 


Bali Narayan (in Darrang) 


1615 


1637 


1616, 1637 


Mahendra Narayan 


1637 


1643 


... 


Chandra Narayan . 


1643 


1660 


... 


Surya Narayan 


1660 


1682 


... 


Indra Narayan 


1682 


1725 


... 



[The rule of the Eastern branch of 
the Koch dynasty terminated with 
Bali Narayan' s death in 16o7, and the 
status of his successors was gradually 
reduced to that of zamindar. A 
branch of the family, descended from 



Bijit Narayan, son of Parikshit, was 
in possession of Bijni and another, 
founded by Gaj Narayan, Parikshit's 
brother, held the small estate of Bel- 
tola.] 



360 



DATES OF SOME ASSAM DYNASTIES. 



(iv) Some names and dates of Kachari 
Khun Kara . 

Detsung 

Harmesvar ( P title) 
Satrudaman alias Pratap Narayan 
Nar Narayan 
Bhim Darpa or Bhimbal 
Bir Darpa 



Garurdhvaj 

Makardhvaj 

Udayaditya 

Tamradhvaj 

Sura Darpa 

Haris Chandra Narayan 

Sandhikari 

Haris Chandra Bhupati 

Krishna Chandra 

Gobind Chandra 



1644 



1706 



1790 
1813 



Kings. 
1520 r. 
1536 d. 
1570 r. 
1610 r. 

1637 d. 
r. 1671 r. 



r. 1708 d. 

1708 a. 

1721 r. 

1765 r. 

1771 r. 
r. 1813 d. 
a. 1830 d. 



Note.— (a) Means date of accession. 
(d) „ „ death, 

(r) ,, reign in progress. 



{v) Tentative Chronology* of Kings of Jaintia* 




Date op 










Years known to fall 




Acces- 
sion. 


Death. 


in the reign. 


Parbat Kay . , . 


1500 


1516 


•*■ 


Majha Go sain 






1516 


1532 


... 


Burha Parbat Bay 






1532 


1548 


• t • 


Bar Gosain 






1548 


1564 


■•• 


Bijay Manik . 






1564 


1580 


• t. 


Pratap Eai 






1580 


1596 


■•i 


Dhan Manik . 






1596 


1612 


••• 


Jasa Manik 






1612 


1625 


1618 


Sundar Ray . 






1625 


1635 


••• 


Chota Parbat Kay 






1636 


1647 




Jasamanta Bay 






1647 


1660 


1647 


Ban Singh 






1660 


1669 


,,, 


Pratap Singh 






1669 


1678 


... 


Lakshmi Narayan 






1678 


1694 


1680 


Earn Singh I . 






1694 


1708 


1707 


Jay Narayan 






1708 


1731 


... 


Bar Gosain 






1731 


1770* 


1731, 1770 


Chattra Singh 






1770 


1780 


..» 


Bijay Narayan 






1780 


1790 


1788 


Ram Singh II 






1790 


1832 


1790, 1813 


Rajendra Singh 






1832 


1835 


1832 


Note.- 


—The dates in 


italics are conjectura 


J. 


*Abdi 


cated. 











THE AHOM SYSTEM OF CHRONOLOGY. 



361 



APPENDIX B. 

THE AHOM SYSTEM OF CHRONOLOGY. 

The Ahoms, like the other Shan tribes, have no era in the ordinary 
sense of the word but compute time by means of the larger Jovian cycle 
of sixty years, which they call a taosinga. The same system is in 
vogue amongst the Chinese, Japanese, Mongols and other Eastern races ; 
it is known also to Hindu astrologers, who call the cycle Vrihaspati 
Chakra, or the wheel of Jupiter. It may have been invented by the 
Chinese, who have dates in it as far back as the year 2637 B.C. The 
Chinese are said to use also the true Jovian cycle of twelve years for 
reckoning domestic occurrences, , but this smaller cycle was not known 
to the Ahoms. 

The laklis, or years in the cycle, are named, not numbered, and the 
names are formed by compounding words of two series, the former 
containing ten and the latter twelve words. The first word in the 
taosinga is denoted by the combination of the first word of each series, 
and the tenth, by that of the tenth word of each ; in the eleventh year 
the denary series is exhausted, so that year is denoted by the 
combination of the first word of the denary series and the eleventh 
word of the duodenary, the twelfth by the second word of the denary 
and the twelfth word of the duodenary, the thirteenth by the third word 
of the denary and the first word of the duodenary, and so on. 

The two series of words are given below, with their equivalents in 
Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan : — 

Denary Series. 



Serial 
Number. 


Ahom. 


Chinese. 


Japanese. 


Tibetan. 


1 


kap . 


kea 


kino-je . 


sing. 


2 


dap ■ 


yih • 


kino-to 


sing. 


3 


rai 


pmg . 


fino-je . 


me. 


4 


mung . 


ting 


fino-to 


me. 


5 


plek • 


wu 


tsucsno-je 


sa. 


6 


kat 


ke 


tsutsno-to 


sa. 


7 


khut . 


kang . 


kauno-je . . 


1 cag*. 


8 


rung 


sin 


kauno-to . . 


/ cag s. 


9 


tao • • 


gin 


midsno-je . 


chu. 


10 


ka 


kwei 


midsno-to 


chu. 



362 



THE AHOM SYSTEM OF CHRONOLOGY. 



Duodenary Series. 



Serial 
Number- 


Ahom. 


Chinese. 


Japanese. 


Tibetan. 


1 


tyeo 


toze . 


ne . • 


byi-ba. 


2 


plao • 


chao • . 


us . . 


9 Jang- 


3 


ngi 


ym 


torru 


s tag. 


4 


mao . • 


mao 


ov • 


yo-s. 


5 


si 


shin 


tats . • • 


b rug. 


6 


siu . • 


sze 


mi . 


sb rul. 


7 


smga . 


wu 


uma . . 


r ta. 


8 


mut . • 


we . . 


tsitsuse 


1 cag. 


9 


sail . 


shin 


sar . 


sjp rou. 


10 


rao 


yeo 


torri . . 


bya. 


11 


mit 


seo 


in . 


kyi. 


12 


keo 


ha 


y • 


pag. 



The Tibetans, it should be observed, compound their words so as to 
form a cycle not of sixty, but of 252 years. Their method is described 
in Csoma de Koros' Tibetan Grammar, pp. 147 and ff. 

I have been unable to obtain any explanation of the Ahom words 
used in these series. The Chinese call the words in their denary series 
Hen kan, or terrestrial signs, while those in the duodenary series are the 
horary characters, and are known as tec he or celestial signs. The denary 
series in the Japanese system is made up of the elements, of which they 
reckon five, doubled by the addition of the masculine and feminine signs 
je 8c to ; the second series consists of the signs of the zodiac. The 
Tibetans, like the Japanese, employ the names of the elements for the 
denary series, but, for the duodenary, they take the names of certain 
animals — mouse, ox, tiger, etc. 

The Ahoms commence their first cycle in the year 568 A.D., so that 
in order to ascertain the year in our era, corresponding to an Ahom 
lakli, the number of completed tdosingas should be multiplied by sixty, 
the number of the lakli, or year in the current tdosinga, added, and also 
568. In inscriptions, as well as in the Ahom buranjis, the name of the 
lakli alone is given, and not the serial number of the tdosinga, but it is 
universally reckoned that Sukapha entered Assam in the first year of 
the twelfth tdosinga, and it is easy to keep a tally of the tdosingas 
from that time on, as numerous events occurring in each tdosinga are 
mentioned in all the Buranjis. Thus Supatpha's coins are dated in 
lakli rdisdn. This is equivalent to the 33rd year, and as it must be 
the nineteenth tdosinga, the date will be 18 x 60 -f 33 + 568 = 1681 
A.D. This, according to the Buranjis is the year of Supatpha s accession 
to the throne. 



COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 363 



APPENDIX C. 

TRANSLATION OF AN OLD COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 

[This set of copper-plates refers to a grant of land by Eaja Eatna Pal. 
It was obtained by the author from a cultivator in mauza Bargaon, 
district Darrang, Assam, who said that it was found by his grandfather 
while ploughing his fields. The translation is by Dr. A. F. E. Hoernle, 
C.I.E., Ph.D., who published a full account of the plates in the Journal 
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. lxvii, pt. I, page 99. Most of the 
footnotes which accompanied the original translation have been omitted. 
Dr. Hoernle thinks that this inscription was probably made in the first 
half of the eleventh century.] 

TRANSLATION. 

(Fibst Plate : line 1) Hail ! 

(Verse 1.) " He may be seen incessantly exhibiting his beautiful 
white figure, in the Tandava (dance) according to the strict rules of that 
dance, (guided) by the stainless reflection of his body formed on his own 
nails : even thus does Cankara (or Qiva), who, though like the Supreme 
Being he is endowed with the quality of omnipresence (lit., expansion), 
assumes numberless forms at his absolute will, shine forth as the Lord 
of the World for the sake of the welfare of that (world). 

(2) " What? Is it that here flows the light of the white rays (of 
the moon) in congelation, or a solution of crystals ; or is it that the 
beautiful (Jankarl (or female counterpart of (^iva) and his (^aktl (or 
energy) is intently engaged in marking quick-time music in its prime- 
val form ?" It may be with such musings as these about the nature of 
its water that the happy population (of the country) quickly resorts to 
that river Lauhitya (or Brahmaputra), which by removing all sins pro- 
tects the world. 

(Verse 3.) Of Hari {i.e., Visnu) who, in the form of a boar, raised 
the earth when she had sunk beneath the ocean, Naraka of the Asura 
(or demon) race was the son, who acted the very part of the moon to 
the personal charms of the ladies of the Suras (or gods). 

(4) Who, declaring Aditi to be a woman, weak, decrepit, timid, 
stupid, deserted by her kinsmen, and overtaken by misfortune, conquered 
the Suras, and snatched away her ear-rings which were precious as being 
typical of the glory of the Suras. 

(5) In Pragjydtisa, the best of towns, provided with brilliant troops 
of warriors like systems of suns, and lovely-faced women of many kinds, 



364 COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 

he took up his residence, after he had acquired prosperity, equal in plea- 
santness to the pride of his arms. 

(6) " I am grown too old (to engage) in war, and my father will 
gain a brilliant reputation," bethinking himself thus, out of kindly con- 
sideration, he lived carelessly : so Hari removed him to heaven. Alas ! 
for one who is keenly desirous of glory there is truly in this world no 
counting of kinship. 1 

(7) Then his wise son, Bhagadatta by name, whose shoulder was 
girt with the mantle of far-reaching glory, and who by the multitude of 
his good qualities won the affections of the (whole) world, carried upon 
himself the burden (of the government) of the country with propriety 
and much prosperity. 

(8) Then the mighty Vajradatta, having like Vajrin (i.e., Indra) 
conquered his enemies, being in beauty like a large diamond, and 
enjoying the reputation of having achieved the conquest of the world 
through his own honesty and energy, obtained that kingdom of his 
brother, just as fire (attains) brilliancy on the setting of the sun. 2 

(9) After thus, for several generations, kings of Naraka's dynasty 
had ruled the whole country, a great chief of the Mlecchas, owing to a 
turn of (adverse) fate, took possession of the kingdom. (This was) 
Calastambha. In succession to him also there were chiefs, altogether 
twice ten (i.e., twenty) in number, who are well known as Vigraha- 
stambha and the rest. 

(10) Seeing that the twenty-first of them, the illustrious chief, 
Tyaga Simha 3 by name, had departed to heaven without (leaving) any 
of his race (to succeed him), 

(Second Plate : obverse :) his subjects, thinking it well that a Bhauma 
(i.e., one of Naraka's race) should be appointed as their lord, chose 
Brahmapala, from among his kindred, to be their king on account of 
his fitness to undertake the government of the country. 

(11) " Single-handed he overcame his enemy in battle : why 
indeed should this appear strange to his detractors, (seeing that) on this 

i Naraka is said to have been of disapproval of Visnu's conduct in 

slain by Krisna, who is an incarnation setting 1 aside the claims of kinship 

of Visnu or Hari. The latter was for the sake of earning a reputation. 
Naraka's father : hence the father 2 There is here a play on the 

slew his son. The poet represents word vajra, which means both " the 

this as a Sort of voluntary sacrifice thunderbolt" and "a diamond." Indra 

on the part of Naraka, who, feeling is called vajrin, or " the wielder of 

himself too old for his accustomed vajra" or " the thunderbolt ;" and 

warlike exploits, purposely, i.e. , out Vajradatta or " the gift of Vajra" 

of consideration for his father, lived is said to be as beautiful as a vajra 

in a careless fashion, in order to or " diamond." 

afford his father an opportunity of 3 The meaning apparently is that 

slaying him, so that his father the whole series consisted of 21 mem- 

(Visnu) might have the reputation bers, viz., Qalastambha, 19 others, 

of having slain the much-feared and Tyaga Simha. It is not clear 

demon Naraka. The poet, however, whether the name of the last king 

cannot refrain from adding a word is Qrityaga or Tyaga. 



COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 365 

point Hara and Hari are examples, and Bhisma and indeed many others 
besides." Thus arguing, his warriors have always thought very highly 
of (the conduct of) their home-staying (king), seeing that his enemies 
fled away in all eight directions. 1 

(12) His desire being stimulated by the taste of the joys due to 
his prosperity, he married a young woman who by reason of her devotion 
to her people bore the name of Kuladevi, which is, as it were, the stand- 
ing name for LaksmI (or " good fortune ") attainable by (all) rulers 
sprung from any (noble) family of the world. 

(13) By him, who had such a reputation, was begotten on her a 
son called Ratnapala, who gained renown because his people justly con- 
cluded that a jewel- like king would, by his good qualities, foster the 
most worthy among them. 2 

(14) By reason of the elephants, pearls, carried forth by the 
impetus of the unrestrainable stream of blood running from the split 
foreheads of the elephants of his enemies, his (i.e., Ratnapala's) battle- 
field looked beautiful like a market-place strewn with the stores of 
merchants, and ruby-coloured through (the blood of) the slain. 

(15) Then having placed him (i.e., Ratnapala) on the throne, to 
be to the dynasty of Naraka what the sun is to the lotuses, he (i.e., 
Brahmapala), the spotless champion, went to heaven ; for noble-minded 
men who know the good and the evil of the world know to do that 
which is suitable to the occasion. 

(Second Plate : obverse : line 28 : Prose.) In his capital, the heat 
(of the weather) was relieved by the copious showers of ruttish water 
flowing from the temples of his troops of lusty (war-) elephants which 
had been presented to him by hundreds of kings conquered by the power 
of his arms entwined in clusters of flashes of his sharp sword. Though 
(that capital) was crowded with a dense forest, as it were, of arms of his 
brave soldiers who were hankering after the plunder of the camps of all 
his enemies, yet was it fit to be inhabited by wealthy people (merchants). 
(In it) the disk of the sun was hid (from view) by the thousands of 
plastered turrets which are rendered still whiter by the nectar-like 
smiles of the love-drunk fair damsels (standing on them). It was 
frequented by many hundreds of well-to-do people, 3 just as a forest 
planted on the heights of the Malaya mountains (is frequented) by 
snakes. It is adorned by learned men, religious preceptors and poets 
who have made it their place of resort, just as the sky is adorned 

1 Brahmapala appears to have be expected to become a ratna-pala 
been of a mild and peaceable disposi* or "jewel-protecting" king. 

tion and this is the way that the 3 There is here a complicated 

poet expresses that fact. His son verbal conceit, which cannot be exact- 

Ratnapala formed the strongest con- ly translated. Bhogin means both a 

trast to him, being a very strong and "well-to-do, pleasure-loving man " 

warlike ruler, with a very long reign. and " a snake." The Malaya monn- 

2 There is here a play on the tains, with its fragrant breezes, will 
word ratna or " jewel." A ratna- suit the former, while the forest wi}l 
uparoa or "jewel-like" prince may suit the latter. 



366 COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 

by Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. 1 It resembles the summit of mount 
Kailasa in being the residence of the Paramecvara (i.e., supreme 
ruler, or (^iva, the supreme God), and in being inhabited by a Vitteca 
{i.e., a master of wealth, or Kuvera the God of wealth). Like the 
cloth which protects the king's broad chest, its boundaries were 
encompassed by a rampart, furnished with a fence strong like that 
used for the game-birds of the (^akas, fit to cause chagrin to the 
king of Gurjara, to give fever to the heads of the untameable elephants 
of the chief of Gauda, to act like bitumen in the earth to the lord of 
Kerala, to strike awe into the Bahikas and Taikas, to cause discom- 
fiture (lit., pulmonary consumption) to the master of the Deccan country ; 
and generally to serve for the purpose of discomfiting the (king's) 
enemies. It is rendered beautiful by the river Lauhitya which gives 
relief to the fair damsels, that after the exertion of sexual enjoyment 
ascend to the retirement of their stuccoed turrets, by the spray of its 
current gently wafted up by the breeze charmingly resonant with the 
prattle of the flocks of love-drunk females of the Kala-hamsa ducks ; 

(Second Plate : reverse :) and which (river) also resembles the 
cloth of the finely wrought flags carried by the elephants of Kailasa, and 
the jewelled mirrors used in their coquetries by the numerous females 
(i.e., the Apsarases) of the lord of heaven (i.e., Indra). It is an 
object of respect to merchants who are the owners of numerous (kinds 
of) wares. Such is the town in which the lord of Pragjyotisa 
took up his residence and which he called by the appropriate name of 
the " Impregnable one" (durjaya). Here dulness might be observed in 
necklaces, but not in the senses (of the inhabitants) ; fickleness in apes, 
but not in their minds ; changef ulness in the motions of the eyebrows, but 
not in promises ; accidents (happening) to things, but not to the subjects. 
Here capriciousness might be seen (only) in women ; reeling (only) in the 
gait of women excited with the (tender) intoxication of spring-tide ; cove- 
tousnous (only) in evil-doers ; safe addiction to the sipping of honey (only) 
in swarms of bees ; exceeding devotion to love (only) in Brahmany ducks 
(Anas Casarca) ; and eating of flesh (only) in wild beasts. In that town, 
which emulated the residence of Vasava (i.e., Indra) the king, who 
resembles the moon in that he makes his virtues to wax, as the moon 
makes the tides of the encircling ocean to wax, and in that he causes 
his enemies to experience the deprivation of their wealth, as the moon 
causes the ponds to experience the deprivation of their lotuses ; and 
who resembles the sun in that he makes his feet to rest on the heads of 
his enemies, as the sun makes his rays to rest on the summits of the 
mountains, and in that he delights in making his copper- mine 8 
lucrative, as the sun makes the lotus-ponds brilliant : who, being 

1 Here is again a verbal conceit : Mvya both " a poet " and " Venus." 

budha means both "a learned man " The capital was to the men, what the 

and " Mercury ; " guru both " religi- sky is to the planets, 
ous preceptor" and " Jupiter," and 



COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 867 

a Paramecvara (or paramount sovereign), takes pleasure in (the country 
of) Kamariipa ; who, though heing of the lihauma (i.e., of Naraka's) 
race, delights in being the enemy of the Danavas (or demons) ; who 
being a Puru&ottama or " perfect man," does not act as a Jandrdana 
(or troubler of his subjects) ; who, though being a valiant man, walks 
(leisurely) like an elephant : whose figure is such as to out-do Manmatha 
(or the god of love) ; whose profundity such as to put into the shade 
the ocean ; whose intelligence such as to be a guarantee of the con- 
quest of the world ; whose valour such as to surpass Skanda (or the 
god of war) : who is an Arjuna in fame, a Bhimasena in war, a Kritanta 
(or god of death) in wrath, a forest -conflagration in destroying his 
plant-like adversaries : who is the moon in the sky of learning, the 
(sweet) breeze of the Malaya mountains in the midst of the jasmin- 
like men of good birth, the sun in eclipsing his enemies, the mountain 
of the East in the successful advancement of his friends : this king, 
the Paramegvara, Parama-bhattdraka, Mahdrdjddhirdja, the illustri- 
ous Ratnapala Varma-deva, who meditates at the feet of the Mahdrdjd- 
dhirdja, the illustrious Brahmapala Varma-deva, may he prosper. 

(Second Plate : reverse ; line 52.) With reference to the land 
producing two thousand (measures of) rice, and the fields with the 
clusters of gourds, together with the inferior land of the hamlet of 
Vamadeva, (the whole) situated on the northern bank (of the Brahma- 
putra), within the district of the " Thirteen Villages," the king sends his 
greetings and commands to all and several who reside (there) : to the 
(common) people of the Brahman and other castes, headed by the district 
revenue officers and their clerks, as well as to the other (higher-class) 
people, such as the Rajanakas, Rajaputras, Rajavallabhas, etc., and above 
them the Kanakas, Rajiiis, and Rajas ; and, in fact, to all who may 
reside there in f uture at any time. 

Be it known to you, that this land, together with its houses, paddy- 
fields, dry land, water, cattle-pastures, refuse-lands, etc., of whatever 
kind it may be, inclusive of any place within its borders, and freed from 
all worries on account of the fastening of elephants, the fastening of 
boats, the searching for thieves, the inflicting of punishments, the tenant's 
taxes, the imposts for various causes, and the pasturing of animals, such 
as elephants, horses, camels, cattle, buffaloes, goats and sheep, as set forth 
in this charter : — 

(Third Plate : line 58 : verse 1.) There was a Brahman in the land, 
Devadatta, of the Parasara Gotra and the Kanva cakha ; a leader among 
the Vajasaneyakas, whom on having found to be the foremost vedic 
scholar, the Vedas, in their threefold division, felt themselves satisfied. 

(2) He had a son, Sadgarjgadatta, richly endowed with (every) 
virtue, who ever kept the holy fire burning (in his house), and at the 
sight of whose devotion to the six holy duties a multitude of people were 
established in their faith in the whole body of Brahmans from Bhrigu 
downwards. 



368 COPPER-PLATE INSCRIPTION. 

(3) He had a wife, (^yamayika, devoted to her husband and endowed 
with (every) virtue, who shines like the streak (crescent or quarter) of the 
moon, pure in form and dispelling the darkness. 

(4) From her was born a son, Viradatta, a leader among the learned 
in the (Jastras, and fearful of (committing) any offence, on the experience 
of whose deep-seated piety and formidable intellect the Kali age felt, as it 
were, humbled. 

(5) To him, on the VisnupadI Sankranti, in the twenty-fifth year 
of my reign, (this land) is given by me for the sake of the good and the 
glory of my father and of myself. 

(Its) boundaries (are as follows) : On the east, the (^almali-tree * on 
the big dike ; on the south-east, the Calmali-tree standing on the steep 
bank (of the river Brahmaputra) by the anchorage of the boats for the 
Path! fish of the Rusi-class ; on the south the Badari-tree by the same 
anchorage of boats ; on the south-west the Kacimbala-tree by the same 
anchorage of boats ; on the west the Acvatha-tree standing on the steep 
bank (of the river) ; at the bend to the north-west, the dike of the 
fields, as well as a Kacimbala-tree ; on the north-west the Hijjala-tree on 
the dike of the fields ; at the bend to the east and north, the dike of the 
fields and a pair of (^almali-trees ; further at the bend to the east and 
south, the dike of the fields and a pair of Kacinibala-trees ; at the slight 
bend to the east and south, the dike of the fields and a pair of (^almali- 
trees ; on the north, the Kacimbala-tree on the big dike ; and on the 
north-east, a Vetasa-tree on the big dike. 

The Seal. 

Hail ! The lord of Pragjydtisa, the Maharaj-adhirSja, the illus- 
trious Ratnapala Varma Deva. 

1 The trees here mentioned are : Qimbala, which I cannot identify ; 

Qalmali, Bombax vnalabaricum ; Acvatha, Ficus religiosa ; Hijjala, 

Badari, Zizyphus Jujuba or Jujube Barnngtonia acutangula ; VStasa, 

tree ; K&cimbala, an inferior kind of Calamus Botang. 



DESCRIPTION OF AHOM MANUSCRIPT RECORDS. 369 

APPENDIX D. 

DESCRIPTION OF AHOM MANUSCRIPT RECORDS. 

When the Ahdms invaded Assam at the beginning of the 13th century 
they were already in possession of a written character and a literature of 
their own. The use of paper was unknown, and they employed instead 
strips of bark of the Sdci tree, known in Bengal as Agar (Aquilaria 
Agallocha), the Aloes wood of the Bible, from which are obtained the 
perfumed chips which are so largely exported from Sylhet for use a* 
incense in temples. The manner of preparing the bark for use as a 
writing material is as follows :— 

A tree is selected of about 15 or 16 years* growth and 30 to 35 inches 
in girth, measured about 4 feet from the ground. From this the bark is 
removed in strips, from 6 to 18 feet long, and from 3 to 27 inches in 
breadth. These strips are rolled up separately with the inner or white 
part of the bark outwards, and the outer or green part inside, and are 
dried in the sun for several days. They are then rubbed by hand on a 
board, or some other hard substance, so as to facilitate the removal of the 
outer or scaly portion of the bark. After this, they are exposed to the 
dew for one night. Next morning the outer layer of the bark (nikari) is 
carefully removed, and the bark proper is cut into pieces of a convenient 
size 9 to 27 inches long and 3 to 18 inches broad. These are put into 
cold water for about an hour, and the alkali is extracted, after which the 
surface is scraped smooth with a knife. They are then dried in the sun 
for half an hour, and, when perfectly dry, are rubbed with a piece of 
burnt brick. A paste prepared from matimah (Phaseolus radiatus) is 
next rubbed in, and the bark is dyed yellow by means of yellow arsenic. 
This is followed again by sun-drying, after which the strips are rubbed as 
smooth as marble. The process is now complete, and the strips are ready 
for use. 

The labour of preparing the bark and of inscribing the writing is 
considerable, and, apart from this, much greater value is attached to an old 
manuscript, or puthi, than to a new copy of it. These puthis are very 
carefully preserved, wrapped up in pieces of cloth, and are handed down as 
heirlooms from father to son. Many of them are black with age, and the 
characters have in places almost disappeared. The subjects dealt with 
are various. Many are of a historical character ; others describe the 
methods of divination in use amongst the Ahom Deodhais and Bailongs ; 
others again are of a religious character, while a few contain interesting 
specimens of popular folklore. A list of these puthis which had come, at 
that time, to notice will be found in my Keport on the Progress of 
Jlistorical Kesearch in Assam. 



INDEX, 



Page 
A 

Abhaypur . . 75, 117, 134 
Abors .... 216,317 
Adhikar .... 214 

Afrasiyab, King of Turan . 19 

Agent to Governor- Gene- 
ral . . 285,291,292 
Ahom, Derivation of the 
word .... 
Ahom invasion of Jaintia . 
„ invasions of Kachari 
kingdom . 89, 94, 103, 166, 249 
Ahom invasions of lower 

Assam 106, 109, 126, 146, 150, 160 



241 
169, 259 



Ahom kings, Dates of 


358 


„ Origin of 


71 


„ Law and justice 


238 


„ mythology 


71 


„ wars — See War. 




Ahoms, Affinities of . ! 


2, 67, 74 


„ Description of 


119, 138 


„ Funeral customs of 


121 


Ahdm, system of Chronology 


361 


„ „ Government 


230 


„ titles explained 


240 


Ahu rice 


289 


Aijal .... 


313 


Aijepiera 


72 


Ain-i-Akbari . . 54 


, 57, 271 


Aitonia Nagas . . 81, 83 


, 97, 100 


Akas . . .17, 


308, 316 


Akbarnamah . 


54,63 


Akhampa Nagas 


82 


Alamgirnamah 35, 126, 139, 


148, 150 


Ala Mingi (Burmese Com- 




mander) 


223 


Allen, Mr. (Board of Reve- 




nue) .... 


322, 324 


Amils of Sylhet 


271 


Angami N&gas . 306, 


310, 311 


Annexation of Cachar 


299 


„ „ Duars 


307, 308 


„ „ Jaintia 


301 


„ „ Matak 


305 


„ „ Purandar 




Singh's State 303 


„ „ Sadiya 


304 


„ „ Tularam's 





country 



306 



Page 
Apa Tanangs . . . 317 

Appeals . . . 238, 288 

Arimatta . . .17, 18, 37 

Arjun . . . 13, 14, 264 

Aryan languages and races . 6 

Artisans imported from 

Bengal ... 176 

Artisans imported froin 

Koch Kingdom . 86, 99, 117 

Artisans imported from 

Sadiya . . 86 

Assam-Bengal State Railway 342 
„ Code ... 294 

„ Derivation of . 240 

„ Description of . 139 

„ dynasties . . 357—360 
„ joined to Eastern 

Bengal . . 345 

„ Light Infantry 286, 292, 

306, 323 
„ Other names for . 76, 241 
„ separated from Ben- 
gal . . . 331 
„ various meanings of 

term. . . 333 

Assamese ... 6, 328 

Assassination of Gobind 

Chandra . . 300 

Assassination of Ahom 
Kings 83, 94, 120, 123, 151, 153, 

154, 155, 156, 157, 159 
Assessors— See Law and Jus- 
tice. 
Astrologers 60, 86, 131, 156, 177, 

178, 180, 188 

Asurai .... 51 

Asvakranta ... 13 

Atrocities at Jaintiapur . 173 

„ Burmese 227, 228, 

276, 277, 284 

„ Moamaria . 187, 191 

„ perpetrated by 

Gaurinath . . . 201,211 

Atrocities, Sukapha's . 74 

Auniati Sattra . 58, 138, 162, 165 

B 

Badan Chandra Bar Phukan 221, 222 
Badarpur . . . 275,284 

z3 



372 



INDEX. 



Page 
Bagmara . . • 207 

Bahatiating . . . 218 

Baidargarh ... 18 

Bailong — See Astrologers. 
Bakata ... 83 

BalaVarman . . . 26,29 
Bali Narayan 38, 65, 104, 105, 107,115 
Bamunia Gosains . . 57 

Ban Asur . .12, 16 

Bangan . . . 185,186 

Banpara Nagas . . 96, 145 

Bansabali of Darrang Rajas 45 

Bansang Nagas . . 96,145 
Ban Singh ... 258 

Baotoli land ... 289 

Barak river . . . 275 

Barepaita . . . 114 

Bar Barua . . . 233 

Baro Bhuiya — See Bhuiya. 
Bar Gohain . . 76, 77, 155, 233 
Bar Gosain . . 255, 256, 260 

Barjana Gohain . 180, 184, 185 
Bar Nadi . 48, 65, 115, 148, 293 
Barnagar . . 54, 64, 113, 345 

Barpatra Gohain . 86, 122, 233 
Barpeta ... 327 

Bar Phukan . . 107, 233, 235 
Bar Senapati 218, 225, 280, 286. 305 

235 



Barua 

Basti land 

Bayley, Sir S. C, Chief 

Commissioner 
Bebejia . 

Bedingfield, Death of Lt. 
Begar . 
Bej Barua 



Beltola 125, 139, 150, 191, 215, 234 



Bengali novel . 

Bengmara 

Bhadra Sen . 

Bhagania Raja 

Bhagavat . .15, 

Bhagdatta 

Bhagirath 

Bhagwangola. . . 

Bhalukpung . 

Bhandari Barua 

Bharathi Raja 

Bharat Singh 

Bhaskara Varman 

Bhatara Bazar 

Bhela Raja . . 

Bhertika Pass . . 

Bhimbal 

Bhim Darpa Narayan 

Bhishmak, King of Sadiya 



209, 337 

333, 336 

218 
2.97 
236 
235 



248 

195, 218 

39 

123 

16, 59, 155 

13, 27, 29 

13 

266 

17 

235 

216 

195,216 

22, 28 

269 

100 

275 

116, 248 

104, 248 

15,39 



Page 
Bhuiya . 36, 46, 47, 49, 97, 116 

Bhutan .... 49 

Bhutan Frontier . . 201, 219 

Bhutan War . . . 308, 315 

Bhutiyas . . . 315 

Bihis ... 287 

Bijay Manik , . . 255, 256 

Bijni .... 200,238 

Bikrampur . . . 169,275 

BirPal .... 39 

Bisa .... 280 

Bishaya .... 289 
Bishnath . 174, 250, 292, 293 

Bishnu Narayan . . 197 

Bisva Singh . . 46, 94 

Board of Revenue . . 300, 345 

Hodo . . . . 2, 5, 242 

Bodo, Period of —domination 5, 7 
Bolton, Mr., Chief Com- 

missioner . . . 333 

Bora .... 236 

Borahi .... 75 

Brahman Kings of Jaintia 256 
Brahmanical influence — 

See Hinduization. 
Brahmans . 118, 164, 177, 183 

Brahma Pal . . . 27, 31 
Brahmaputra, Old course 

of 10,59,60,132 

Brahmaputra valley in 13th 

century ... 35 
Brahmaputra valley re- 
venue system . . 337 
Brajanath . . . 223 
Bridges .... 117,175 
British expedition to Assam 197, 274 
British expedition to Jain- 
tia . . . . 260 
British expedition to Mani- 

pur . . . . 265,281 

Brooke, Raja— of Sarawak 279 
Browne, Captain— killed in 

Lushai . . 314 

Bruce, C. A., Mr. . . 346, 347 

Bruce, Mr. Robert . . 226,346 

Buddhism in Assam . . 25 
Burha Gohain . 76, 77, 232, 240 

Buranjis, Holocaust of . 180 

Buran lis, List of vi 

Bu ran lis, Meaning of . iv Note 

Burha Parbat Ray . . 255 

Burha, Raja . . . 103 

Burjee Raja . . , 198 

Burlton, Lt. . . . 297 

Burma, Phayre's History of 9 

Burmese Atrocities , , 227 



INDEX. 



373 



Burmese intervene in Assam 
Burmese intervene in 

Cachar 
Burmese invade Manipur 
Burmese settlers in Assam 
Burmese War . . 
Byng, Major . 



222 

252 
265, 266 
279 
274 
323 



281, 284, 299, 300 
Derivation of 

242 
338 



Cachar 
Cachar 

word . . . 

Cachar revenue system 
Cannon — See Guns. 
Caste, Admission of out- 
siders to 7 
Caste distinctions . , 239 
Cattle disease . 93, 119 
Census (see also Popula- 
tion) 117, 141, 148, 179, 294, 320 
Ceremony, Ahom funeral — 121, 165 
Ceremony of installation 232 
Ceremony, Kikkhvan 86,121,188 
Chakradhvaj (of Kamata- 

pur) .... 42 

Chakradhvaj Singh . . 144 

Chakrapani . . . 151 

Chandibar ... 38 

Chandrakant . 220, 225, 229, 292 
Chandra Narayan . 112, 113, 150 



Chans-sil 
Chao Pulai 
Charaideo 
Charguya 
Charlton, Lt. . 
Chattra Singh. 
Cliaudang 

Chaudangiya Barua 
Chaurjit Singh 



313 

78 

75, 85, 92, 165, 232 

83 

347 

260 

141 

235 

252, 266 



Chenapunji . . 297, 298, 299 

Chief Commissionership 

formed ... 331 

Chora wa Phukan . . 235 

Choladhara Phukan . . 235 

Chota Parbat Ray . . 257 

Chronology, A ho in system 

of— .... 361 

Chronology of Assam rulers 357—360 
Chungi rising . . . 187 

Chura Chandra . . 344 

Churaikharang . . 98 

Chutiya kings. . . 36,38 

Chutiya . 5, 79, 84, 87, 88, 99, 153 
Civil Justice — See Law 

and Justice. 
Clan— See Khel. 



Page 
Climate of Assam . . 143 

Coal .... 346 

Coffee, Cultivation of . 272 

Coins 51, 59, 62, 97, 133, 178, 186, 

195, 232, 272, 253, 255 
Collett, General, Chief 

Commissioner . . 333 

Commissioner of Assam 285, 291, 

292, 327 
Commissioner of Brahma- 
putra valley . . 336 
Communications— (See also 

Roads; . . 294,340,341 

Condition of people — See 

Material condition. 
Conspiracies 78, 79, 8f>, 83, 94, 
97, 101, 119, 122, 123, 145, 
151, 154,155. 157, 158,159, 

161, 179, 180, 187, 191, 266 
Coolies for tea gardens . 354 

Copper plates — See Inscriptions. 
Copper Temple at Sadiya . 40 

Cornwallis, Lord . . 196 

Cotton, Sir Henry, Chief 

Commissioner . • 333 

Courts of law 238, 288, 294, 326, 

328, 329,b30,336 
Cowries .... 272 

Creation, Ahom story of the . 68 

Criminal Justice — See Law 

and Justice. 
Criminal trials— See Courts 

of Law. 
Cultivation, State of — 

(1663) ... 143 

Custom house at Hadira 295 

Customs, F uneral - of 

Ahoms . . 121 

Customs of Ahoms . . 119 

Customs revenue . . 213 

Cycle — See Chronology. 



Dacca .... 126,137 
Daflas 117, 122,145,177, 180, 

215, 3u8, 317 
Dakhinpat Gosain . . 53, 162 

Dalais .... 236 

Damant, Mr. . . . 311 

Darika bridge . . . 117 

Darrang. . . 234,289,293 

Darrang Rajas 66, 129, 196, 2U0, 

218, 234, 296 
Dates— See Chronology. 
Dates of certain Ahom 

kings ... 102 



374 



INDEX. 



Page 
Daud . . . .54,61 

David Scott — See Scott. 
Debargaon . . . 133 

Deb Damodar ... 57 

Debera Bar Barua . . 153 

Debesvar, a Sudra king . 17 

Dehan .... 24tf 

Deka Phukan . . . 235 

Demera. . 167, 168,172,174 

Deodhai. v, 70, 118,131, 178, 188 

Deori Cbutiyas . . 140, 145, 153 
Deputy Commissioners . 327, 328 
Derivation of : — 

Ahom. 

Assam 

Bhuiya 

Gobain • 

Jaintia 

Kachari 

Kamarupa . 

Khun-lung (lai) 

King's names 

Kosi . 

Lengdon 

Lobit . 

Moamaria 

Mungrimungram 

Nongnyang . 



Patkai 

Pragjyotishpur 

River names 

Svargadeb . 

Tai . 

Tangsu 

Tista . 

Tsaubwa 
Detcba . 
Detsung 
Dban Manik . 
Dbansiri 
Dhansiri valley 
Dharampur 

Dharma Narayan — See Bal 
Dbarma Pal 
Dbekeri Raja 
Dbir Narayan 
Dbubri . 

Dibrugarh Frontier Tract 
Dibru river 
Dibru Sadiya Railway 
Digboi 

Dihing . . 75, 83, 86. 

Dihingia Phukan 
Dihingia Raja 
Dihing river, Changes in 

course of , 



241 

240 

36 

240 

253 

242 

11 

71 

240 

5 

70 
5 

58 

71 

81 

81 

15 

5 

240 

74 

82 

5 

240 

244 

. 93, 244 

247,255,256 

87,89,244,293 

103, 116, 248 

251 



Page 
Dikhu . .75, 82, 84, 243, 244 
Dikbu river, Old course of 132 

Dikrai river ... 49 

Dimapur . . 89, 93, 244, 246 

Dimarua . 19, 52, 106, 115, 

129, 215, 234, 247, 256 
Dimasa . ... 5, 242 

DipikaChand . . 17 

Disai . . 193, 191, 196 

Districts, Formation of 293, 

300, 303, 305, 307, 310, 313 
Doboka .... . 218, 277 
Dom Bairagi . . . 198, 209 

Dopgarh ... 118 

Dravidian languages and 

races .... 3 

Duars . , 225,243,307,330 
Dudpatli . . . 275,281 

Duimunisila ... 91 

Duliya Barua . . . 235 

Durjaya, Indra Pal's 

capital ... 32 

Durlabb Narayan , . 38 



Earthquakes . . 21, 96, 101, 

121, 176, 344 

Eastern Bengal and Assam 345 

Eastern Bengal State Rail- 
way .... 342 

Eastern Duars . . 293, 330 

Elephant catching . 101, 118, 143 

Elliott, Sir C. A. 
Commissioner 

Embankments . 

Era Aijepi, Sak 

Europeans in Assam 59, 110 

Expedition in aid of Mani- 
pur Raja 

Expeditions, Naga . 

Expeditions — See War. 



Narayan. 

17 

99 

39,84 

64, 127, 294 

330 

286 

342 

346 

280, 286 

235 

83 

132, 192 



101, 
Chief 

. 333,337 
83, 97, 117, 177 
72,95 
128,179 

182 
310 



Faljur pargana . . 261 

Famines . 101, 119, 136, 145, 194 
Faringati land . . 289, 337 

Fasad Khan ... 271 

Fathiyah-i-Ibriyah 125*, 127, 

135, 138, 140, 144 
Feudal service . . 236 

Fire-arms, Use of . 92, 95, 

119, 140,210 
Firishta's history . . 19 

Firuz Khan . . . 146, 147 

Fisher, Captain, Superin- 
tendent of Cachar . 243, 300 



INDEX. 



875 



Page 

Fitch, Ralph . .45, 59 

Fitzpatrick, Sir D., Chief 

Commissioner . 33 

Floods . . 69, 101, 121, 192* 

Frontier Tracts Regulation 330 

Fugitives — See Refugees. 

Fuller, Mr., Chief Com- 
missioner . . 333 

Funeral ceremony of Rudra 

Singh . 176 

Funeral customs of Ahoms . 121 

G 

Gadapani — See Gadadhar 

Singh. 
Gadadhar Singh . . 159, 160 
Gajpur . . . 118, 133, 134 
Gambhir Singh 252, 266, 274, 281, 

282, 283, 299 
Garhgaon 50, 95, 97, 133, 135, 

179, 190, 193 
Garhgaon, Description of 141 

Garia .... 92 

Garo . . . 45,150,312 
Garo Hills . . 285, 293, 312 

Garurdhvaj . • . 249 

Gauhati 12, 55, 126, 129, 146, 

152, 157, 160, 183, 192, 197, 



209, 210, 212, 



Gaur 

Gaur (in Sylhet) 

Gaur Gobind . 

Gauresvar 

Gaurinath Singh 

Gaurisagar 

Geographers, 

pean . 
Geography 



Gharib Nawaz 
Ghatak, Ruler 

Kirats . 

Ghiladhari 
Ghiyas-ud-din 
Ghatotkacha . 
Ghoraghat . 



218, 222, 226, 

234, 277, 293 

. 19, 38, 52, 53 

. 268, 270 

. 269,270 

38 

170 

179, 192, 193, 278 

Early Euro- 

241 
. 10, 59, 113, 132, 

192, 241 
. 263,264 
of the 

11, 12 
222 



35 
269 
20, 42, 61 



Goalpara 150, 197, 227, 284, 285, 

293, 294 
Goarar Jangal . . . 268 

Gobar .... 154 

Gobha . . 125, 172, 301, 302 
Gobind Chandra 251, 252, 266, 

274, 284, 299 
Gobind Deb— See Gaur 
Gobind. 



Gohain, Derivation of 
Gohains, Status of 
Golaghat 
Gopal Deb 
Gor— See Gaur. 
Goramur 
Gosain Kamal . 
Gosain Kamala Ali . 
Gosains of Upper Assam 



58, 



Gots of Paiks 
Government, Form of 

Ahom 
Green tea 

Guns, Introduction of 
Guns, flint-lock 
Gunjong . . 

Quru Charitra 
Gurus from Bengal . 



Page 
241 
232 
327 

58 

58, 191 
47 

50, 201 
1B2, 

186, 214 
236 



230 

352 

92 

210 

307 

38 

176, 177, 183 



Habiganj 
Habraghat 
Habung country 
Hadira 
Haflong 
Haft Iqlim 
Hailakandi 
Hajara Singh . 
Hajo 



H 



335 

227 

75, 79, 84, 86 

150, 295 

307 

56 

252 

210 

46, 53, 61, 65, 105 

to 111, 149 
61 



Hajo Temple . 

Bal, area of 

Hamsa Konchi 

Hangsa Narayan 

Har Datta 

Hari Deb 

Haria Mandal . 

Har is Chandra Bhupati 

Harjjara 

Haruppesvar, Bala Var 

man's capital 
Hatak Asur 
Hatimara . 

Hatsungtsa 
Haulia . . . 

Hazarika 

Hazarikhowa Akas . 
Hengdan 
Hinduism, Tantrik — (See also 

Mah§ purushia, Mahant, 

Guru, etc.) . 
Hinduization, Process of v, 8, 
29, 42, 56, 80, 118, 138, 
176, 177, 178, 245, 251, 260, 261 
Hidimba — See Hirambha. 



210 

269 

33 

196 

214 

57 

46 

251 

27, 28, 29 

30 

11 

198 

243 

195 

236 

308, 316 

9, 22, 232 



56 



8T6 



INDEX. 



Hirambha 


. 246, 250, 269, 301 


Holongghar 


232 


Ho 


. 254, 324 


House tax 


. 324,339 


Hiuen Tsiang 


9, 22 


Hukong 


. 77,222 



Human sacrifices 40, 56, 232, 261, 301 
Husain Shah . . 41, 42, 88 



Immigrants to tea gardens 354 

Income tax in Jaintia Hills 325 

Indigo, Cultivation of . 272 

Indo-Chinese languages . 4 

Indra . . . . 70, 73 

Indra Ballabh . . . 116, 248 

Indra Daman . . . 148 

Indra Pal 26, 31 

Inner Line Regulation . 331 

Innes, Col. . . 281 

Inscription at Jaintiapur. 258 

„ in Ha jo Temple 62 

„ in Kamakhya Temple 56 

„ on Kanai Barasi 

rock . . 147 

„ (s) on cannon . 147, 

152, 161 
„ (s) on copper-plates 

26,163, 178, 213, 
253, 260, 261, 268, 269 
„ on rock at Tezpur 27 

„ Translation of 

copper-plate . . 363 

Installation ceremony . 232 

Interregnum . . 79 

Intrigues at end of 17th 

century . . . 159 

Invasions, Prehistoric — of 

Assam • . • 7 

Isa Khan ... 61 

Islam Khan . . .63, 105 
Ismail Ghazi ... 43 



Jagi .... 170, 259 
Jaintesvari, Image of .172, 257 
Jaintia 7, 51, 124, 144, 168, 

182,217,253,271, 276, 299, 

301, 302, 324, 335 
Jaintias, Affinities of . 253 

Jaintia conquered by Bri- 
tish force , . 260 
„ History of . 253 
„ kings, Dates of . 360 
„ rebellion . . 324,325 



Page 
Jaintiapur 168, 250, 257, 258, 259 
Jaisagar tank . . 175 

„ temple . . 175,185 
Jai Singh . . . 181, 265 
Jalbhari Phukan . 235 

Jakhalabandha Sattra . 135 

Jamunamukh . 217 

Janardan Buddh, Image of 25 

Jangalbari ... 61 

Japara . . 194 

Jasa Manik . . 10 «, 247, 257 

Jasamanta Rai . . 257 

Jatinga river . . 275 

Jatrapur . . . 275, 281 

Jayadhvaj Singh . . 123 

Jay Narayan . . 260 

Jenkins, General . 292, 324, 347 

Jhum cultivation . . 339 

Jogighopa . . 113, 127, 197 

JoginiTantra . 10,17, 97 

Johnstone, Sir James . 311 

Jongal Balahu . 19 

Jongalgarh . . 19 

Jorhat 205, 209, 220, 222, 2i9, 

278, 286, 292 
Jorhat State Railway . 341 

Jovian cycle . . . 361 

Judge of Brahmaputra 

valley . . . 335, 336 

Judicial authorities 238, 288, 

328, 330, 336 
Junior assistants . . 327 

K 

Kacha Nagas . . . 311 

Kacharis 5, 36, 51, 82, 87, 89, 103, 

116, 117, 120, 165 to 172, 181, 

217, 242, 275, 287, 299 

Kacharis, Affinities of . 242 

History of . 242 

Kachari kings, Origin of . 251 

„ „ Dates of . 360 

Kagoti .... 289 

Kaibartta ... 269 

Kajali (Mukh) 65, 114, 115, 128, 

137, 146, 160 
Kajali Mukhia Gohain . 234 

Kakati ... 236 

KakilalThaba . . 264 

Kallang ... 218 

Kala Pahar . . .53, 246 
Kalika Puran . . 10, 56, 261 

Kalita ... 138 

Kamakhya 11, 12, 13, 47, 53, 55, 

56, 176, 177, 210 



INDEX. 



877 



Page 




Page 


Kamalesvar Singh . ♦ 214 


Koch Bihar 


47, 293 


Kamarupa 10, 22, 26, 41, 243, 268 


„ Chief Shankal 


19 


Kamarupa, Dates of certain 


„ Hajo 


55, 241 


kings .... 357 
Kamarupa, Extent of . 10, 22 


„ kings 


44, 144 


„ „ Dates of 


359 


Kamarupa Kamesvar, 


Koches, Affinities of 


44 


king of 34 


Kohiina 


311 


Kamarupa, Origin of name 11 


Kohi Dan 


251 


Kainata 38, 40, 41, 77, 78, 81, 


Koliabar 107, 115, 130, 158, 


203, 


88*, 244 




204, 277 


Kamatapur . 18, 38, 42, 43 


Kopaschor Akas 


316 


Kampith . . .10, 13 


Kopili .... 


218, 277 


Kamrup . 214, 289, 290, 


Krishna Chandra 


217, 251 


293, 307, 308 


Krishna Narayan 196, 200, 


202, 218 


Kamrup Light Infantry . 306 


Krishnaram Bhattacharya 


176 


Karatoya 10, 24, 34, 35, 41, 47, 91 


Kubo valley . 


267, 342 


Karimganj . . . 335 


Kuki .... 


299, 313 


Kasomari Pathar . . 246 


Kukv Scouts . 


323 


Kataki . . . 117,119,236 


Kumar Haran . • 


16 


Kathalbari ... 222 


Kundina . . 


15 


Keatinge, Col., Chief Com- 


Kusaranya 


17 


missioner . . 332 


Kuvacha . . 


44 


Kekora Raja ... 121 






Kendu Kulai ... 17 


L 




Khachar ... 242 


Labour force on tea gardens 


355 


Khagarijan . . 90,125,293 


Labour, Forced 


236 


Khairam 52, 172, 254, 256, 260 


Labour laws . 


355 


Khamjang . . 81, 188 


Ladaigarh 


117, 19fi 


Khamjang Nagas . . 93 


Lakhau . . .131 


, 132, 155 


Khamting Nagas . . 97, 122 


Lakhimpur . . 50, 96, 303 


Khamtis 77, 210, 216, 287, 304, 319 


Lakhiraj 


296 


Khargariya Phukan . 235 


Ldkli, or year in Jovian 




Khasi Hills . . 253, 297, 330 


cycle .... 


361 


„ language . . 6, 253 


Lakma Naga . 


124 


„ States ... 297 


Lakhnauti— See Gaur. 




Khasis .... 253,308 


Lakshmi Narayan . 62, 63 


, 108, 257 


Khaspur 167, 168, 174, 218, 247, 


Lakshmi Singh 


177, 183 


249, 251, 259, 265 


Laluk Bar Phukan . 


159 


Khel . . . 117,236,288 


Land Revenue — See Revenue. 


Khela . 65 


Land and Revenue Regulation 340 


Khens . . . 9, 41 


Land tax — See Revenue. 




KhoraRaja ... 97 


Langthabal 


265 


Khonoma . . . 311 


Language(s), Ahom . 


139 


Khunlung ... 71 


„ Aryan 


6 


Khunlai ... 71 


„ Assamese 


328 


Khunkhara . . 89,244 


„ Bodo . 


5,243 


Khyrim — See Khairam. 


„ Dravidian . 


3 


KillaKandi ... 275 


„ Indo-Chinese 


4 


Kinaram . . . 211 


„ Khasi 


253 


Kirati . . 11,12, 13 


„ Mon- Khmer . 


4, 253 


Kirti Chandra Narayan . 250 


„ Munda 


3 


Kirtipur . 248 


„ No test of race 


1 


Kobirar Ali . . 40 


„ Reasons for 




Koch History . . 44 


change of 


2 


Koch artisans imported . 86, 99, 117 


1 Lara Raja 


158 


„ Asam . . . 241 


i Latasil , 


145 



8*8 



INDEX. 



Page 
Laur .... 271 

Law and Justice 238, 294, 300, 

309, 326, 328, 329, 330, 336 
Laws, Local Extent Act . 329 



Laws in Assam 

Lemuria, a submerged con 

tinent 
Lengdon 

Lhota Naga . • 
Lightning 
Liksu 

Lime, Trade in 
Lindsay, Collector of Sylhet 
Linguistic families . 
Lister, Captain . 

Local Boards . 
Locusts . 

Lohit, Derivation of 
Lohit river 
Luki . • 

Lumding 
Lungleh 
Lushai . 
Lusbai Hills . 



294, 329 



70 

311 
119 
296 
272 
272 
3 

298, 302 
340 

101, 119 
5 

132, 191 

46, 191 

342 

313 

313 

313, 314 



Lyall, Sir C. J., Chief Commr. 333 



Maasir-i-Alamgiri 
MacGregor, Lt. 
Madhab Deb . 
Madhu Chandra 
Magic 
Mahal 



M 



157 
203 
57 
266 
15, 35, 57 
289 



Mahabharat 1, 10, 13, 14, 15, 251, 264 
Mahgarh . . 226 

Mahant brought from San- 

tipur .... 
Mahants, Persecution of 

Sudra 
Mahapurushia 
Mahasthan 
Mahirang Danab 
Mahur river • 
Maibong 
Majha Gosain . 
Majuli island . 
Majuli, Gosains settled on 
Makardhvaj 

Malla Deb — See Nar Narayan. 
Man Siugh 
Manar Upadrab . 

Mangaldai . . 201,293,327 
Manipur 51, 181,189,195,222, 

281, 284, 299, 323, 343 
Manipur, History of . 263,343 
Manipur, Other names for 263 



176 

. 162, 165, 178 

. 58, 101, 119 

24 

11 

. 246, 300 

166, 167, 246, 249 

255 

132 

165 

249 

63 

277 



Page 
Maniram Dewan . . 324, 326 

Maps — See Geography. 
Mara Mukh . . 276, 278 

Marangi Khowa Gohain . 95, 234 
Maralavas ... 43 

Marjit Singh . . . 252, 266 

Massacre at Jaintiapur . 173 

Matak . 184,285,286,292 

Material condition of people 140, 

194, 212, 284, 296, 302 
Mathurapur . . . 117,133 

Maulvi Bazar . . . 335 

Mauza .... 289 

Mauzadur . . . 289 

Means of Communication — 

See Communications. 
Mech . . 5, 34, 44, 46, 242 
Medhis compelled to wear 

badges . . . 165 

Mercenaries in Assam 196, 202, 

210, 214, 215 
Migration, Compulsory 83, 85, 

86, 95, 99, 111, 116, 117, 217 
Mikir .... 181 

Mikir Hills Tract . . 330 

Military Police . . 336 

Militia for Sylhet . . 273 

Mingi Maha Bandula . 226 

Mint — See Coins. 

Mir Jumlah . . 126, 137, 248 

Mirhang . . 188 

Miri . . 117, 124, 145, 161, 317 
Mishmi .... 158,318 
Moamaria . 58, 178, 183, 184, 
187, 190, 205, 215 to 218, 

225, 251,286 
Monas . . .45, 54, 113, 160 

Mongolo-Dravidian . . i, 4 

Mongolians . . . 4, 253 
Monoliths ... 254 

Mon-Khmer languages . 4, 6, 253 
Monuments, Destruction of 

ancient ... 20 

Moran . . 75, 184, 185, 287 

Morangia ... 48 

Moria .... 92 

Muhammad Bakhtyar Khilji 34 

Muhammad Shah . . 85 

Muhammadans of Assam . 92, 140 
Muhammadans claim pay- 
ment of indemnity 145 
Muhammadan conquest of 

Sylhet . . 270 

Muhammadan invasions — {See 
also War) 34, 35, 42, 64, 87, 

S9, 105, 112, 115, 126 



INDEX. 



379 



Page, 
Mukarram Khan . . 64, 65, 105 

Mulagul . . . 168,169,173 

Munda .... 254 

Munda languages and races 4 

Mungkang . . 72,84,222 

Mungkhumungjao . . 72 

Mungmau ... 67 

Mungrimungram . . 71 

Musalman — See Muhammadan. 
Mustard seed . . 346 

Mutilation . . .158, 232 

Mutiny of 1857 . . 322 

Mutiny in Sylhet . , 273 

Mythological Period . 10 

N 
Na Gosains . . . 177, 183 

Na Phukan ... 235 

Naga(s) _ . .74,162,309,320 
{See also Akhampa, Aitonia, Angami, 
Banpara, Bansang, Kacha, Khain- 
jang, Khamting, Lhota, Papuk, 
Sema, Tablung, Tangsu. 
Naga, Derivation of . 309 

Nagarbera Hill , . 198 

NiLhar Moran . . 184 

Namdang . , 75, 84, 193 

Naindang bridge . 175, 206, 278 
Namrup 50, 75, 98, 132, 137, 144, 

159, 162, 184, 187 

Namsang ... 93 

Nam sang Nagas . . 162 

Nar Narayan (Kachari king) 248 

„ ' (Koch king) 47,48, 

95, 246, 256 



Nungklow . . 

Nyay Khoda Phukan 



Page 
297 
235 



Nar Singh . 

Narayanpur . 

Nara 

Naradi Puran 

Narak Asur 

Nariya Raja . 

Nati Gosain 

Nauduar 

Nausaliya Phukan 

Naval Brigade 

Neog Phukan 

Neufville, Lt. 278, 280, 

Nilachal — See Kamakhya 

Niladhwaj . 

Nilambar . 

Ningthi river 

Nisfkhiraj land 

Nongkrem 

Nongnyang lake 

North Lakhimpur 



47,48 
50, 88, 96, 99, 187 
76, 100, 188, 216 
250 
12,27 
121, 257 
177, 183 
234 
235 
324 
235 



42 
41,42,43 
282 
296 
254 
74, 81 
327 



Oaths 

Oil, Mineral 

Omens 

Opium 



Padishahnamah 

Padma Narayan 
Paiks 



Nowgong 57, 95, 125, 276, 277, 293 



Pahumara 

Pal kings 

Palace of Garhgaon 

Pain cultivation 

Panchayats 

Pandu 

Pani Phukan . 

Pan j is . 

Papuk Nagas . 

Parbat Ray . 

Parbatiya Gosain 

Parbatiya Phukan 

Parikshit 

Patgiri . 

Patghar 

Patkai . . .74, 

Patkuar 

Paundra Vardhana 

Pera Kagaz 

Permanent Settlement 

Pertabgarh 

Phakial 

Phengna Raja 

Phukans 

Phulesvari . 

Pitambar 

Pitambar Singh 

Police, Military 

Polyandry 

Pong 

Population — See Census. 

Posa 

Potatoes in Khasi Hills 

Powers of Officers 

Prabhakar 

Pragjyotishpur 

Pralambha 

Pramata Ray . 

Pramata Singh 

Pran Narayan 

Pratap Narayan 



155 

346 

98, 118, 1*46, 177, 264 

326 



.104, 105, 106, 

108, 111, 118, 119 

17 

65, 109, 233, 236, 

286, 288, 296, 309 

191 

20, 32 

142 

237 

288, 309, 326 

127, 128, 147 

235 



13, 325 

97,100 

255 

177 

235 

62, 63, 106 

289 

232 

81,280,321 

193 

22, 24, 25 

179 

338, 339 

322 

216 

18 

235 

177 

216 

266 

33H 

254 

67, 263 

181, 308, 317 

346 

332 

106, 247, 256 

. 12, 15, 30 

. 28,29,30 

258 

. 177, 179 

115, 125, 135 

. 103, 248 



380 



INDEX. 



Page 
Pratap Singh (Ahoni king) 103, 

247, 257 
Pratap Singh (of Jaintia) . 258 

Prices in former times . 213, 265, 295 
Principal Assistants . 327 

Public Works Department 240 

Punishments 42,107,108,111, 
122, 124, 137, 1 52, 153, 160, 161, 

180, 194, 238, 329 
Pura .... 237 

Purandar Pal . 32 

Purandar Singh 223, 225, 291, 292, 303 
PuraniGudam . . 293 

Purans . . . 1, 10, 253 

Purnanand Burha Gohain 192, 

205, 210, 211, 214, 219, 220, 221 



Quinton, Mr., Chief Commr. 333, 343 



Eailways . . . 341 

Ragha . . 185, 186 

Raghu ... 17 

Raghu Deb ... 54, 60 

Raghu Vansa ... 17 

Raha . .103, 167, 181, 218, 

248,249,250, 277 
Rajbansi ... 44 

Rajdhar ... 37 

Rajesvar Singh . 177, 180, 265 
Rajindra Singh . . 301 

Rajkhowa . . 236 

Raj mala, Tippera . 51, 256, 268 
Ralph Fitch . 45, 59 

Ramakant . . . 186 

Ram Chandra . . 17 

Ramdhvaj . . 153 

Ram Singh, Raja . . 148, 149 
Ram Singh (of Jaintia) 168, 170, 

171, 249, 253 
Ram Singh II . . .261, 284 

Rangamati . . . 148, 150 

Rangagora . . . 293 

Rangghar . . . 179 

Rangpur 175,180,185,192,195, 
207, 209, 212, 213, 216, 219, 

229, 279, 280, 286 
Rangpur Local Infantry . 276, 286 
Rani . . 19, 150, 191, 234 

Rashid Khan 126, 127, 137, 145, 149 
Ratna Asur . 11 

Ratna Pal . . 26, 27, 31, 32 

Ratna Pith ... 10, 11 



Page 
Ratnapur ... 17, 39 

Ratna Singh ... 18 

Raush, Mr., of Goalpara 196, 197, 215 
Rebellion in Manipur . 343 

Refugees in Surma Valley . 173, 

217,227, 228 
Refugees in Rangpur 

(Bengal) . . . 229 

Regiments in Assam 276, 286, 

295, 296, 306 
Regulations, Bengal . 294 

Regulations under 33 Vic. 

Cap. 3 331 

Rent-free lands . . 179, 296 

Revenue . . .143, 290 

Revenue administration 237, 288, 

337 to 340 
Richards, Col. . . 277 

Rikkhvan Ceremony . 121, 156, 188 
Rising in Manipur . . 343 

River communications . 294, 341 
River names . . . 5, 89* 

Riyaz-us-Salatin . . 53, 87* 

Road (s) . . 59, 294, 341 

„ Aka Ali . . 164 

„ Bar Ali 

„ Bhomraguri Ali 

m Dhodar Ali 

,, Dopgarh 

» Dubariyam Ali 

« from Koch Bihar 
to Narayanpur 

„ from Sylhet to 
Gauhati . 

» from Teliadanga 
to Jhanzimukh 

» Gosain Kamala 
Ali . 

„ Kekuri Ali 

ii Kharikatia Ali 

„ Kobirar Ali 

„ Ladaigarh 

„ Meteka Ali 

„ Naga Ali . . 

„ Salaguri Ali 

„ Seoni Ali . 
Robertson, Mr. T. C, 

Commr. of Assam 
Rock Inscription at Tezpur 
Rudra Singh . 
Rubber 

Ruins of Bhishmak's fort . 
Ruins of Dimapur . 
Bukmini Haran 
Rukmini, Rape of 
Rupit land • 



97 
138 
164 
117 
175 

50 

297 

149 

50 
138 
175 

40 
117 
175 

97 
120 
138 

291 
27 

258 

346 
15 

244 

16 

15 

289, 337 



164, 



INDEX. 



881 



Page 



Sadiya . 40, 85, 210, 285, 286, 

287, 292, 295, 304 
Sadiya Khowa Gohain 85, 234, 

280, 287, 304 
Saikia .... 236 



Saktas in Assam 58 


163, 176, 177 


Sala (garh) . 88, 89, 90, 96, 97, 




131, 166, 174 


Sala Stambha . 


27, 28 


Salt, Imports of 


295 


Samaguting 


. 166, 310 


Samatata 


. 24, 25, 241 


Samanta 


37 


Sambar Asur . 


11 


Samdhara .107, 117, 


129, 130, 




. 146, 159 


Samudra 


37 


Samudra Narayan 


218 


Sandhikari 


250 


Sangrai Burha Gohain 


. 154, 158 


Sanitarium in Khasi Hills . 


Sankara Charitra 


38 


Sankar Deb 


37, 57 


Sankosh river 


64 


Santanu 


37 


Sarbanand 


. 195,218 


Saring Raja 


. 144, 323 


Sat Rajas 


308 


Sattra 


58, 101 


Sattrajit 


105, 108, 112 


Satram . 


220 


Satrudaman . . 


. 247, 248 


Saumarpith 


11, 73 


Scheduled Districts Act 


329 



Scott, David 227, 261, 276, 281, 

285, 288, 290, 297, 299, 305, 346 



Sebundy regiment 
Sema Nagas 
Sen kings of Bengal 
Service, Compulsory 
Shah Jalal 
Shan . . . 

Shankal (Shangaldib) 
Shillong 
Shore, Sir John 
Shushang 
Sibsagar 
Sib Singh 
Siem 
Sikkim 
Sila 

Silarai (Sukladhvaj) 47 
51, 53, 54 
Silcbar • , 



295, 306 

311 

32, 268 

236 

270 

67 

19 

254, 298 

207 

63 

165, 179, 193, 303 

177 

298 

285 

91 

48, 49, 

95, 98, 246 

300 



Silghat 

Silk 

Simlagarh 

Sinduri Hazarika 

Singarighar 

Singimari 



Singphos 216, 280, 286, 287, 320, 321 



.65, 



239, 



115, 137 

47 

281, 29rt 

219 

176, 183 



Singiri Parbat 

Sisu 

Slavery (Slaves) 

Small-pox 

Smaran, Taking the 

Social distinctions 

Solongaguri 

Somdeo . 

Sonadar Borua 

Sonapur 

Sonitpur (Tezpur) 

Srighat 107, 110, 114, 127, 128, 

145, 147, 148, 150 



Page 
215 
272 
129, 130 
196, 205 
232 
279 



71, 



218 
118 
235 
258 
16 



Sri Harish 

Staff of officers in Assam . 

Standing Army 

Steamers 

Sub-divisions, Formation 

of 302, 310, 311, 327 

Subinpha 

Succession amongst Khasis 254 
Succession to Ahom throne 
Sudaipha 
Sudang . 
Sudra Gosains 
Suhenpha 
Suhitpangpha . 
Suhung 

Suhungmung . 
Sujangpha 
Sukapha , 

Sukhampha 
Sukhangpha 
Sukhrangpha , 
Sukhrungpha ■ 
Sukladhvaj — See 
Suklampha 
Suklenmung 
Suklingpha 
Sulikpha 
Sunamganj 
Sundar Ray 
Sunenpha 
Supatpha 

Superintendent of Cachar 
Superintendent of Lushai 

Hills . 
Superstitions — (See also 

Omens) ... 60, 177 



27,28 
327 
210 
341 

335 

77 

260 

231 

156 

79 

165 

82 

190 

154 

48,83 

82, 155 

72,74 

97 

77 

78 

164 

153 
49, 90, 94, 95 
214 
157, 159 
335 
257 
179 
160 
300 

S14 



382 



INDEX. 



Suphakpha, 

Supimpha 

Supungmung . 

Sura Darpa 

Surampha 

Survey . 

Susenpha 

Sutamla 

Sutanpha 

Suteupha 

Sutupha 

Sutyinpha 

Svargadeb 

Sylhet, History 

Sylhet Light Infantry 

Syntengs 



Page 

82 

83 

144 

250 

119, 178 
148, 164, 179 

82, 103 

123 

177 

7* 

78 

120, 121 
198, 240 

268 
296, 306, 322 
253, 324, 325 



Tabaqat-i-Nasiri 
Tablung Nagas 
Tagi Raja 

Tai ... 

Taimung 
Talain 

Tambuli Phukan 
Tammu . 
Tamradhvaj . . 165, 

Tangsu Nagas 
Tank, Bhatiapara 
„ Bhishmak 
„ Dimapur 
„ Garbgaon 
„ Gaurisagar 
„ Jaisagar 
„ Kalugaon 
„ Kuuibhanda . 
„ Rudrasagar . 
„ Sibsagar 
Tantras . 

Taosinga, or Jovian cycle 
Tattooing caste marks 
Tavernier 
Taxes . . 237,295, 

Tea cultivation, Area under 
„ „ Land grants 

for 
„ First attempts to 

manufacture . 
„ garden coolies 
„ industry, Capital 

vested in . 
,, industry, History of 
„ manufacture 
„ Outturn of 
„ Over-production of 
„ plant, Discovery of 



34,35 

93 
316 
67, 241 
180 
281 
235 
282 
249, 258 

82 
138 

16 
246 

97 
179 
175 
179 

17 
189 
179 
, 10, 253 
361 
239 
92* 
299, 324 
350 

351 

348 
354 

350 
349 
351, 352 
350 
352 
346 



Page 

Tea plant, Identity of . 348 

„ Price of . ' . . 352 

„ Varieties of 351 

Temples . . 55,59,61, 

163, 176, 179, 183, 185, 189 
Temples, Gifts for 178 

Tephu .... 49 

Ter ScbeUing ... 128 

Tezpur . 16, 26, 27, 148, 216, 293 

Tezpur-Balipara Railway 342 

Thanikar Barua . . 235 

Tibetan cycle , . . 362 

Tibet, Invasion of 34 

Tibeto-Burman languages 4 

Timisa .... 242 

Tipam . 80, 81, 153, 154, 183, 204 



Tippera ... 51 


247, 271 


Tipu .... 


. 98 


Tirat Singh . 


297, 298 


Tishya Deb . 


33 


Titles explained 


240 


Trade . . 175,213 


295, 302 


Transit dues 


295, 299 


Treaty between Ahoms and 




Koches 


98 


„ between Ahoms and 




Muhammadans. . 


115, 136 


„ of Yandabo . . 


267 


„ with Bar Senapati 


286 


„ „ Gambhir Singh 


310 


„ „ Gobind Chandra 


284 


„ „ CaptainlWelsh 


295 


„ „ Purandar Singh 


292 


Tsaubwa, Derivation of 


240 


Tughril Khan . 


35 


Tularam . . 299, 


300, 306 


Turbak . 


90 


Tyag Singh . 


81 


Tyaokhamti 


79 


U 

CTdalguri 


308 


Udayaditya Singh (Aliom) 


149 


Udayaditya (Kachari) 


248 


Ugat Shah 


264 


Umananda Temple . 


163 


Usha .... 


16 



Vaidya Deb . . . 26, 33 

Vaishnava reformation — (See 

also Mahapurushia, 

Moamaria, Sattra, etc.) 57, 101, 162 
Vaishnava Sect, Persecution of 162 
Vajradatta ... .14 



INDEX. 



383 



Vajrapani 
Vasishtha Muni 
Vedic Hinduism 
Verelst, Mr. 
Vidarbha or Sadiya 
Vigraba Stainbha 
Vira Babu 

Vrihaspati Cbakra . 
Vana Mala 

W 

Wabadadars . _ 

War between Ahoms and 

Chutiyas 
War between 

Daflas 
War between 

Dhekeri Raja 
War between Ahoms and 

Jaintias 
War between Ahoins and 

Kacharis 



Page 

14 

13 

70 

265 

15,39 

27 

361 

361 

26, 29, 30 



298 



78, 79, 84, 87, 153 
Ahoms and 

122, 150, 177, 180 
Ahoms and 

99 



168, 169 



. 82,87, 89,93, 
103, 165,217,244, 
247, 250, 257 
War between Ahoms and 

77, 78 
Ahoms and 
48, 49, 50, 95, 97, 100 
and 

124, 161 
Ahoms and 



Kamata 
War between 

Kocbes 
War between Ahoms 

Miris 
War between 



M uhammadans 



87, 89, 105, 108, 
126, 148, 160 



Page 
War between Ah5ms and 

Mungkang 
War between Ahoms and 

Nagas 82, 83, 93, 97, 100, 

122, 124, 162 
War between Ahoms and 

Naras 
War between Eastern and 

Western Koch Kingdoms 
War between English and 

Burmese 
War between Koches and 

Jaintias 
War between Koches and 

Kacharis 
War between Koches and 

Muhammadans 
Ward, Sir W. E., Chief 

Commissioner . . 

Waste land grants . 
Welsh's expedition to Assam 
Westland, Sir J., Chief 

Commissioner 
Wise, Dr. 

Witchcraft — See Magic. 
Wokha . 



SO 



76, 100 



55 



274 

51, 256 

51 

52, 61, 63 

333 
353 

iii, 197 



333 
36 



Yajurvedi Brahmans 
Yandabo treaty 
Yeddo . 



311 



29 

267, 282 

299 



G ? 1. C. P. O No. 2878 H. D.-30-1-06— 900. 



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Gait, (Sir) Edward Albert 
A history of Assam